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Presented to the 

LIBRARY of the 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 

IN MEMORY OF 
MAY V. LABRIE 



A SCOTTISH KNIGHT-ERRANT 




YEN. JOHN OGILVIK, S.J, 

/><>/// a fliifior in the GY.wV at A o 



. 

A SCOTTISH 
KNIGHT- ERR ANT 

A SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND TIMES 
OF JOHN OGILVIE, JESUIT 



BY 

F. A. FORBES AND M. CAHILL 



LONDON 

BURNS GATES & WASHBOURNE LTD. 

28 ORCHARD STREET, 8-10 PATERNOSTER ROW, 

W.i E.C, 4 

AND AT MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND GLASGOW 



" But I ride over the moors, for the dusk still hides 

and waits, 

That hrims my soul with the glow of the rose that 
ends the Quest." 

JOHN MASKFIELP. 




Preface 



UP till very recent times ordinary readers 
derived their whole knowledge of the history 
of the Catholic Church in Scotland from the 
writings of Knox, Buchanan, Spottiswoode, Calder- 
wood, and others of the same school, and from their 
modern disciples, imitators, and borrowers. In 
these works, written from a notoriously Protestant 
standpoint, the Catholic religion and everything 
and everybody connected with it were, naturally, 
painted in the blackest colours. It is little wonder, 
therefore, that the Scottish people in general, knowing 
of the Catholic Church, its clergy and its defenders, 
before and after the Reformation, only from such 
sources, should have devoutly thanked God that 
they had been delivered from Popery and all its 
works and pomps. 

More recently, however, through the painstaking 
labours of independent and fair-minded Protestant 
scholars, as well as by the very useful work done by 
Catholic writers, this perversion of history is being 
exposed, and people at least those who think and 
read are seeing things in a new light. They are 
beginning to view the religion of their forefathers, 
and its work and influence upon the nation, with 
more favourable eyes; the more they read about it 
in reliable authorities, the more good they will see 
in it, and the more they will realize that they have 
been deceived into a rash and erroneous judgment. 



Preface 



A modest but effective contribution towards this 
enlightening process is found in the present volume, 
which we trust will come into the hands of many 
non-Catholics in Scotland. They will read in it a 
charming account of the heroic life and sufferings of 
a fellow-countryman of their own who refused to 
render to Caesar the things that were God s, and died 
for his refusal. Not many, so far as we can learn, 
were actually put to death in Scotland for the Faith; 
but John Ogilvie, S.J., was certainly one of them. 
That he was hanged for no other cause came out so 
clearly at his trial that the attempts of his judges 
to represent him as suffering for the civil crime of 
treason appear singularly fatuous. He stands 
worthily alongside the Martyrs in England, where the 
same methods were employed to secure condemnation 
and death. 

May the prayers of the venerable servant of God 
avail, in sweet revenge, to obtain for his countrymen 
the knowledge of the truth and a share of his courage 
to embrace the Faith for which he died. 

HENRY G. GRAHAM. 



VI 



Contents 



PART I 
THE BATTLE-GROUND 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. SCOTLAND S SORROWS ... 3 

II. THE PARLIAMENT OF 1560 . . . ,17 

III. KING, KIRK, AND BISHOPS .... 30 



PART II 
THE CONFLICT 

I. THE BOYHOOD OF JOHN OGILVIE . . 45 

II. ON THE MISSION . .63 

III. THE ARREST ... . . 74 

IV. THE FIRST EXAMINATION . . . 87 
V. EDINBURGH THE TORTURK . . . .97 

VI. THE RETURN TO GLASGOW . . . .109 

VII. THE TRIAL . . . . . .123 

VIII. THE LAST SCENE . 135 



vii 



CHAPTER I : Scotland s 
Sorrows 

IT was the fate of Scotland, during the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries, to drink to the dregs of 
that cup of woe allotted by the prophet to the 
nation " whose king is a child." Every one of her 
Sovereigns, from the First James to the Sixth, 
ascended the throne a minor, and for a century and 
a half the country groaned under Regent after Regent. 
As time went on the ruling power passed more and 
more into the hands of the nobles, who were neither 
slow to seek it nor scrupulous as to the means em 
ployed to secure it. There was continual strife 
between the great families for the possession of the 
person of the young monarch, in which, as they well 
knew, lay their best title to supremacy. King after 
King, as he came of age, entered on the weary struggle 
to regain possession of the power lost during his 
minority. The nobles, though at continual feud with 
each other, and mutually mistrustful, united as one 
man when an attack on any of their number seemed 
to threaten the power of all. Scotland was torn 
asunder, now by the faction fights of contending 
barons, now by the desperate struggle between nobles 
and King. " In that mournful procession of the five 
Jameses there is no break. The last of them is engaged 
in the old task, and failing as his forbears failed. It 
is picturesque; sometimes it is heroic; often it is 
pathetic, but it is never modern. Modern history 

3 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

sees it as a funeral procession and is silent while it 
passes." 1 

But that sad procession of Stuart Kings must be 
closely studied if the trend of the Reformation in 
Scotland is to be understood. During these long 
minorities the nobles made of Scotland one great 
battlefield, only forgetting their deadly feuds to unite 
against their Sovereign when, snatching his sceptre 
from the hands of those who would have still kept him 
in tutelage, he began his uneasy reign. Well did he 
know from experience how little trust he could place 
in the men ^vho surrounded his throne. There 
was one body alone which could be relied upon 
if the balance of power was to be preserved, and 
that was the Church. To the Church therefore 
he turned to find the support, the advice, and 
the able friends he needed. What wonder if in 
gratitude for loyal service rendered, King after 
King should endow the Church with rich gifts and 
royal patronage ! 

Now, whereas the Church lands were free from 
taxation and her retainers exempt from military 
duty, while the estates of the nobles were continually 
burnt and harried by their enemies, or left unculti 
vated during the frequent faction fights, it is not 
surprising that the broad acres of the Church, care 
fully tended by the unpaid labour of the monks, 
prospered accordingly. 

But as the Church grew in wealth, prosperity, and 
influence, a seed of evil within her, incidental to the 
times and to the conditions of the country, began to 
manifest itself. Unnoticed at first and unchecked, 

1 " Cambridge Modern History." 

4 



Scotland s Sorrows 

the evil grew until the whole body was infected with 
its poison. 

Circumstances had tended to make the Church in 
Scotland monastic rather than parochial. Of the 
1,000 parishes perhaps more into which Scotland 
was divided at the time of the Reformation, about 
700 were held by the monasteries. The Abbey 
of Arbroath alone drew the revenues of 33 parishes, 
Paisley of 29, Dumfermline of 37. The Abbot, 
however, was bound to keep the parish church 
in repair, to look after the spiritual welfare of the 
people, or to send one of his monks to undertake 
these duties. Much, therefore, depended on the 
Abbots; as long as the great abbeys were governed 
by men whose sole aim and object was the religious 
well-being of the people, all went well, while, given 
Churchmen of lower ideals, the way was open for 
great abuses. 

The secular power, as we have seen, was generally in 
the hands of the nobles, who, becoming aware of the 
wealth of the Church, determined to use it for their 
own ends. Kings and barons, seeking a secure 
income for younger or illegitimate sons, were not 
slow to see the advantage of preferring them to a 
rich benefice, and it became a common thing to find 
mere boys, wholly unlettered and incapable, ful 
filling the office of primates, or men who had not even 
received Holy Orders bringing shame on the body 
to which they professed to belong. These intruders, 
prelates in name only, too frequently discharged 
no prelatical function save that of drawing the 
revenues they had coveted. When James IV. fell 
on Flodden Field, his illegitimate son, a mere boy, 

5 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

although already Archbishop of St. Andrews, 
fought beside him. His other natural sons had also 
been appointed to vacant abbacies. In certain of 
the dioceses a kind of family claim seems even to have 
been staked out, one member after another succeeding 
to the see. 1 There was no thought of the responsi 
bility of such a position, no trouble as to fitness 
for the office, no question as to holiness of life. 
Money had to be secured, and this was an easy way 
of securing it. It is hardly surprising that clerics 
such as these thought chiefly of their own ease and 
comfort and the wealth necessary to secure both. 
If the vicar of one of the parishes in their charge died, 
so much the better the stipend he earned passed 
into the pocket of the prelate; if the churches needed 
repair, they might wait for it. The results were just 
what might have been expected: churches fell into 
ruin, children were uninstructed, the Sacraments 
were not administered. A generation of people 
grew up in almost absolute ignorance of their Faith; 
ready to receive any kind of spiritual teaching, they 
listened eagerly to the Lollards and Lutherans, who 
were already promoting their doctrines in Scotland. 

The monasteries suffered also, for if it is hard for a 
fervent community, ruled by a wise and holy superior, 
to uphold the high ideals of the religious life, what 
was to be expected when the Abbot was a courtier 
or a man of worldly mind whose only thought was 
his own enjoyment ? 

It is not surprising that in these neglected parishes 
and monasteries the new doctrines began very soon 

1 Thus we find a succession of Stuarts in St. Andrews, of Hcpburns 
in Elgin, and of Gordons in Aberdeen. 

6 



Scotland s Sorrows 

to gain ground. Many of the followers of Wycliffe, 
who had been driven from England, made their way 
to Scotland, where they found a fruitful field in 
which to plant the seed of Protestantism. The people, 
hungry for any kind of religious teaching, accepted 
what was presented to them as the truth, and the 
Church, through the turpitude of her ministers, lost 
the flock that these faithless shepherds had failed to 
feed. The work went on slowly and in silence. 
Early in the sixteenth century, in certain districts 
in the west, and in Dundee and the surrounding 
country, where an English garrison occupied Broughty 
Castle, numbers of people were slowly but steadily 
adopting the doctrines that Luther and Calvin were 
propagating so zealously in other lands. 

A section of the clergy, however, who had the 
interests of the Church at heart, becoming aware 
of the danger, " voiced their opinion outspokenly," 
as we are told by the anonymous priest-author of the 
" Complaynt of Scotland." " No statutes of banish 
ing or burning," he affirms, " will bring the schism 
to an end till the clergy remove their abuses." 

Ninian Winzet, a brave and zealous priest, as 
learned as he was gentle, " expellit and shott out 
of his kindly town " for refusing to adopt the new 
doctrines, speaks in like manner. " All may laugh," 
he declares, " at the godly and circumspect distri 
bution of benefices to your babes, ignorant men 
. . . that being the special ground of all impiety and 
division within ye, O Scotland. . . . Were not 
the Sacraments of Christ Jesus profaned by ignorant 
and wicked persons, neither able to persuade to 
godliness by their learning nor their living ?" 

7 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

1 The abbeys came to secular abuses," says another 
writer of the time, "the Abbots and priors being 
from the court, who lived court-like, secularly and 
voluptuously. . . . Thus the seculars, temporal 
men, being slandered with their evil example, fell 
from all devotion and godliness." 1 

Quintin Kennedy, Abbot of Crossraguel, in his plea 
for reform, is still more outspoken. " If a benefice 
is vacant the great men of the realm will have it for 
temporal reward," he says, " and when they have 
got the benefice, if they have a brother or a son, 
nourished in vice all his days ... he shall at once 
be mounted on a mule, with a side-gown and a round 
bonnet, and then it is question whether he or his 
mule knows best how to do his office. . . . What 
wonder is it when such personages are chosen to have 
Christ s flock in guiding that the simple people be 
wicked. . . . Thou mayst daily see a bairn or a 
babe, to whom scarcely wouldst thou give a fair 
apple to keep, get perchance 5,000 souls to guide; 
and all for avarice, that their parents may get the 
profits of the benefice. . . . The poor, kindly people, 
so dearly bought by the blood and death of Jesus 
Christ, perish, the Church is slandered, God is dis 
honoured, all heresies, wickedness, and vice reign." 2 
Thus the Churchmen of the day, or at least the faith 
ful few who remained true to the ideals and the teach 
ing of the Church. 

But Kennedy goes on to point out that it is to 
the rulers of the Church alone, even if they be vicious, 

1 Leslie, Bishop of Ross, " History of Scotland." 

2 Compendious Tractive, " Wodrow s Miscellany," vol. i., pp. 89- 

8 



Scotland s Sorrows 

that supreme authority belongs, for, like the scribes 
and Pharisees, " they have sitten in the seat of 
Moses." It is they who must begin the much- 
needed reforms; it is not for everyone on his own 
account to be " correctors of the same abuses." 1 

Although approbation from Rome was still sought 
for appointments to benefices and bishoprics, Rome 
was far distant and the difficulties of communication 
great. If the candidate proposed was reported to 
possess all the desirable qualifications for the office 
in question, there would seem to be no reason for 
doubting the fact. When the news at last reached 
Rome of the true condition of affairs, a Legate was 
at once sent to inquire into the matter, but it was 
then too late. The superintendence of morals, of doc 
trine, and of the election of prelates, had been almost 
altogether neglected, and this at the moment when 
the supervision of religious discipline was particularly 
necessary, owing to the continual wars, and still more 
to the increasing desire for comfort and luxury, and 
the growing spirit of criticism due to the Renaissance. 

" It has been made known to us that for certain 
years back ecclesiastical discipline has been very 
much relaxed in Scotland," wrote the Pope some 
years before the Reformation. " Ecclesiastical 
prelates alienate church property ... to the 
Church s loss and in favour of men of power . . . 
also that they neglect the fabric of the said churches, 
allowing them to fall into ruin and decay . . . that 
divers abuses are introduced, and that very many 
crimes, iniquities, and scandalous enormities are 
committed by various persons of either sex, which 

1 Compendious Tractive," Wodrow s Miscellany," vol. i., pp. 89-174. 

9 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

give offence to the Divine Majesty, bring shame on the 
Christian religion, and cause loss of souls and scandals 
to the faithful." 1 

From every quarter, therefore, from Rome, as 
fiom Scotland herself, came the warning against 
laxity and the prevailing abuses abuses that existed 
to a certain extent in every part of the civilized 
world. It was a time of transition. The outpouring 
of the new intellectual life, outcome of the Renais 
sance, was full of possibilities for both good and evil. 
Men s minds were restless and dissatisfied; traditional 
and time-honoured opinions had been attacked by 
daring hypotheses, wonderful discoveries had opened 
up new vistas never dreamt of before. Intellectual 
life pulsed strong, with a new sense of power, albeit 
a little dazzled with the brilliance of a new light which 
seemed to throw the past into utter darkness. Into 
this ferment of energy, of restlessness, of unsatisfied 
desire, had come the gradual rediscovery of the 
beautiful pagan literature, which, admits a Protestant 
writer, the Church had done so well to banish. The 
craving for a fuller expression of life here found 
a dangerous pasture. " Why preach asceticism ? 
Why not follow a gayer philosophy ? Why not 
seize on all the joys that life has to offer ?" was the 
universal cry. This present life is real and tangible; 
all outside of it is but a shadow. But between the 
world and this new gospel, with its promise of an 
earthly Paradise, stood the austere and authoritative 
figure of the traditional Church, pointing to the path 
of renunciation and self-denial. " Who has appointed 
her judge over us ?" was the next question. " So 

1 " Papal Negotiations," Pollen, S.J. 
10 



Scotland s Sorrows 

many things have proved false why not this too ?" 
Athirst for beauty and for joy, men caught wildly 
at all the world had to offer; Christian ideals were 
forgotten, and the seeds of the pagan corruption 
that lay hidden beneath the beauty of the pagan 
literature began to bear bitter fruit. The canker, 
widespread among the laity, crept slowly into 
the Church; worldliness and love of pleasure 
fought with and in many cases overcame the 
high ideals that she has always upheld before 
the world, although no one knows better than she 
that " we have this treasure in earthen vessels." 

The need for reform was evident. No one saw 
it more clearly than those who were Churchmen 
in the best sense of the word. Again and again from 
wise and holy men in every country came the cry: 
" Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy 
God." The tide of true reform reform within the 
Church herself which was to culminate in the great 
Council of Trent, was already rising. That there 
were abuses, and great abuses, must be frankly 
acknowledged, yet, says Cardinal Newman, " we 
do not feel as a difficulty, on the contrary, we teach 
as a doctrine, that there are scandals in the Church. 
Though deplorable in themselves, they avail nothing 
as an argument against the Church herself, for they 
are the outcome of the weakness of the human element 
in her members, and in nowise the result of her 
teaching and dogmas. The greater the scandals, the 
more overwhelming they appear, the more do we 
see that only a Church divinely appointed and 
guided could have lived through and beyond them." 

14 Were I Pope," says Sir Thomas More, writing at 

ii 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

the very time of the Reformation, " I could not well 
devise better provisions than by the laws of the 
Church are provided already, if they were as well kept 
as they are well made." 

The state of affairs in Scotland was recognized as 
early as 1541, when an Act was passed calling on 
" every kirkman in his awn degree to reform their- 
selves," stringent laws against heresy being passed 
at the same time. During the following years we 
find the Parliament imposing penalties on all who 
neglected Sunday Mass, who played or behaved 
irreverently in church, or who ate meat on Fridays 
or on fast-days in Lent. Provincial Councils of the 
clergy met comparatively frequently; the state of 
many of the kirkmen was openly deplored and the 
neglect of preaching condemned, though it was 
frankly recognized that not a few of the clergy 
were incapable of preaching even the simplest 
sermon. To meet this difficulty it was decided to 
issue a little book, famous later as Archbishop 
Hamilton s Catechism. It contained a full exposition 
of religious doctrine, and was to be read to the people 
for half an hour every Sunday, " until God of His 
goodness provide a sufficient number of Catholic and 
able preachers, which shall be within a few years, as 
we trust in God." Laws which tended to internal 
reform were also passed and energetic measures 
taken. Even then, if the Church could only have acted 
independently and unhampered by political intrigue, 
Scotland might have been saved to the old Faith, but 
the earnest efforts of the clerics who remained true 
to the teaching and the spirit of the Catholic Church 
were nullified by those bent on her destruction. 

12 



Scotland s Sorrows 

Of one fact there can be no doubt. The Church 
was cordially hated by many of the most powerful 
families of Scotland, for during the continual struggle 
for supremacy between the King and the nobles 
she had steadily sided with the King; she had 
enemies, therefore, who both feared her power 
and coveted her wealth. 

During the minority of James V. the kingdom 
had been, to all intents and purposes, ruled by the 
Douglas family, at which time, according to a Pro 
testant historian, " murder, spoliations, and crimes 
of various enormity were committed with impunity. 
The arm of the law, paralyzed by the power of an 
unprincipled faction, did not dare to arrest the 
guilty; the sources of justice were corrupted, and 
ecclesiastical dignities of high and sacred character 
became the prey of daring intruders, or were openly 
sold to the highest bidders." 1 In 1528, aided by 
Archbishop Beaton, the King at last threw off the 
yoke. The Douglases, outlawed and banished, fled 
to England, where they met with a warm welcome 
and found the nobility enriching themselves with the 
spoils of that very Church whose chief representative 
in Scotland had been the means of bringing about 
their downfall. These men, whose fathers had fallen 
at Flodden, fighting for the honour of their King, 
now became the paid hirelings of his enemy. They 
adopted, moreover, the extreme Protestant opinions, 
hardly caring what tenets they embraced, so long as 
they might find in them a means to endanger the 
power which had brought about their ruin. Animated 
by this desire, they returned later to scheme and 

1 Fraser Tytler, " History of Scotland." 
13 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

labour in Scotland for this end alone. Had the 
Church been strong and her ministers faithful, 
they might have schemed in vain, but this was not 
the case. 

At the death of James V., who left a week-old 
infant as heir to the throne, the nobles made a fresh 
attempt to get the power into their hands. In this 
endeavour Henry VIII. was deeply interested, for if 
it were to succeed, these paid men of his could be 
depended upon to secure for him, what he of all things 
desired, the marriage of his son Edward to the infant 
Queen. The plan failed for two reasons: The 
" English Lords " were comparatively few in number, 
and France desired the baby Princess as a wife for 
the Dauphin. Scotland at large, while wholly 
distrustful of the " southerner," was on more or 
less cordial terms with France. " The whole body 
of this realm," writes Sadler, " is inclined to 
France, for they do consider and say that France 
requireth nothing of them but friendship . . . 
whereas, on the other hand, England, they say, 
seeketh nothing but to bring them into subjection." 1 

A decided refusal, therefore, was made to the 
demand of Henry, who, furious as usual when his 
will was crossed, determined to take by force what 
he could not obtain by stratagem. " Burn Edin 
burgh," he ordered, " sack and deface it; sack 
Holyrood House; burn as many towns and villages 
as you conveniently can . . . sack Leith, putting 
men, women, and children to fire and sword; turn 
the Cardinal s town of St. Andrews upside 
down, leaving no creature alive within the same." 
i Sadler, State Papers, i. 820. 
14 



Scotland s Sorrows 

Truly, as the Scots themselves said, " a strange 
and boisterous wooing." The little Mary was sent 
to France for safety, and Henry by his own action 
defeated the plans of his pensioners, whose treachery 
might have succeeded where his violence failed. 

The Queen-Regent, Mary of Guise, was a strong 
woman and brave; but, French by birth, her 
sympathies were naturally with France, and she 
never rightly understood her Scottish subjects. 
She was bent on strengthening the alliance between 
the two countries by the marriage of her baby 
daughter to the young Dauphin. The methods taken 
by Henry of England to get the little Princess into 
his power had deepened the Scottish hatred of 
England and strengthened friendly feelings toward 
France, but this state of affairs was completely 
reversed by the policy of Mary of Guise and her 
brothers. She neglected almost all the Scottish nobles, 
sought French advice, and peopled the Scottish towns 
with French garrisons, of whose excesses she herself 
had often to complain. 1 Resentment grew strong 
among the people; an interloper is an interloper, be 
he French or English, was the thought in many hearts. 
We would die, every mother s son of us, rather than 
be subject to England," said a Scots Ambassador, 
adding significantly: "Even the like shall you find 
us to keep with France." The Regent, however, 
failed to see that she was alienating the people; 

1 Yet, when the Reformers denounced as ruinous the introduction 
of French soldiers and the fortifying of Leith by the Regent, she 
could reply with perfect truth that she had not brought in French 
men till the Congregation dealt with England, and had seized and 
fortified Broughty Castle. 

15 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

her mind was set on one thing, the marriage of her 
daughter with the Dauphin. By this she hoped to 
unite the crowns of Scotland, France, and England; 
but before the marriage could come about it was 
necessary to obtain the consent of the " English 
Lords," and to this end Mary of Guise, faithful daughter 
of the Church as she considered herself, afl ected 
not to notice their secession from the Faith of their 
fathers, and by so doing unwittingly played into 
their hands. 

The Scots, who would not have been ill-pleased to 
see their little Queen Sovereign of England and 
France as well as of Scotland, but were by no means 
ready to let their country be used as a pawn in French 
policy, looked with an ever-deepening mistrust on 
the proceedings of the Regent. The national feeling 
in Scotland was veering round, especially amongst 
the Commons, where the spirit of enmity to France 
was daily growing stronger, and in proportion as 
their hatred of England diminished, the doctrines 
of the English Reformers found a ready hearing. 
The " English Lords," moreover, by their description 
of what was going on in England and how the lands 
and wealth of the Church were falling into the hands 
of those who had the strength or the cunning to 
secure them, aroused a like spirit of covetousness 
in their fellow-peers. 1 Thus various currents, weak 
as yet in themselves, yet all tending in the same 
direction, were flowing rapidly towards the union 
which makes for strength. 

i In 15-43 the Regent Arran confessed to Sadler that so many 
great men were Papists that, unless the sin of covetousness made 
them Reformers, he saw no other way in which the Reformation 
could be effected (Sadler, State Papers, vol. i.) 

16 



CHAPTER II: The Parliament 
of 1560 

IN 1557 the "English Lords," backed up by all 
of their fellow-peers whom they could induce to 
follow them, united under themselves the various 
factions and openly took the lead. In December 
of the same year a memorable meeting of the party 
resulted in the publication of the first " Covenant," 
by which the " Congregation of Christ," as they 
elected to call themselves, 1 formally renouncing the 
Catholic Church and assuming full power over 
ecclesiastical affairs in Scotland, ordered the English 
Prayer Book to be used in all parishes and the 
Sacraments to be administered in the vulgar tongue. 
In those parts of the country where the Lords of the 
Congregation had most influence these orders were 
actually carried out, neither the Regent nor the 
Bishops, apparently, realizing the full import of this 
unlawful assumption of ecclesiastical authority. It 
seems, indeed, to have been looked upon as merely 
one of those periodical outbursts of rebellion which 
were so common in Scotland. Mary of Guise, wholly 
intent on securing the marriage of her daughter 
Mary to the Dauphin of France, and anxious to 
conciliate all parties in the State, had little attention 

1 ** They still call themselves the Congregation, and that also with 
this singular speciality, as being the Congregation of the Lord in 
opposition to those of the Church, whom they are pleased to call 
4 The Congregation of Sathan " (Keith, " History of Church and 
State in Scotland") 

17 B 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

to spare for other matters. In the April of 1558 
she accomplished her end; the long-desired marriage 
was celebrated in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in 
Paris, the young bride winning all hearts by her 
charm and beauty. At the Parliament held in the 
November of the same year the Scots consented to 
bestow the crown matrimonial on the Dauphin. 

Mary of Guise was now at leisure to pay some 
attention to what was going on around her. She 
saw a kingdom torn in two, and the Lords of the 
Congregation, at the head of a numerous and powerful 
party, preaching and practising a religion alien to 
the Faith of their fathers. The Princess Elizabeth, 
whose Protestant leanings were well known, had 
succeeded Mary Tudor on the throne of England 
and was ready to help them with men and money. 
Thoroughly alarmed, the Regent resolved to act, but 
it was too late. 

The Church, too, had realized the danger. In the 
last of the pre-Reformation Councils a commission 
was appointed to enforce various much-needed 
reforms, including the saying of Mass at least every 
Sunday and feast-day; the visitation of monasteries 
and the repair of churches. Bishops were com 
manded to preach at least four times a year, and 
priests likewise, if they were able. If not, they 
must either learn to do so or provide a capable 
substitute. The nature of the Sacraments was to be 
carefully explained to the people, and in order that 
this might be done efficaciously, a small leaflet was 
drawn up and published, which on account of its 
price became known as the " Twapenny Faith." 

The Council showed a resolute determination to 

18 



The Parliament of 1560 

get rid, at all costs, of some of the prevalent abuses, 
and to enforce reform in the lives of the clergy. 
It became clear to those who were unworthy of their 
profession that their practices would no longer be 
condoned. They must therefore amend their lives 
or break with the Church, and Bishop Leslie does 
not hesitate to tell us that in many cases they chose 
the latter alternative. A new religion was offered 
them with fewer obligations and lower ideals. They 
threw in their lot with the Reformers, and, increased 
by this not very desirable contingent, the Protestant 
party swept on to victory. 

Mary of Guise, to whom the Church naturally 
looked for support, now came forward and issued a 
proclamation ordering all to attend Mass regularly, 
and summoning the chief Protestant preachers to 
appear before a Parliament to be held at Stirling. 

It was at this juncture that John Knox appeared 
again in Scotland. Returning from Geneva, where 
he had retired when the country became somewhat 
too hot to hold him, he placed himself at the head of 
the summoned preachers, and, accompanied by the 
Lords of the Congregation and their followers no 
inconsiderable army marched to Stirling. The first 
halt was at Perth, where one of the leaders, Erskine 
of Dun, left the main body and went on alone to 
Stirling. The Regent, alarmed at the news of the 
approaching army, promised, it is said, to withdraw 
all proceedings against the preachers, and on the 
strength of this many of the leaders dispersed, 
taking their followers with them. 1 Mary now de- 

1 Knox, who was in Perth, says that the " whole multitude with 
their preachers, stayed." Andrew Lang in his " History of Scot- 

19 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

nounced the preachers as rebels and outlaws. On 
this, Knox, who was still in Perth with many of his 
party, went to St. John s Church, where he preached 
to a large congregation on the " abomination of the 
Mass." The fact that as soon as he had finished a 
priest came out of the sacristy and began to say 
Mass illustrates the extraordinary confusion of 
religious ideas at the time. The theories that Knox 
had propounded still ringing in their ears, the crowd 
began to put theory into practice, and the beautiful 
old city of Perth witnessed such scenes as in all its 
stormy history it had never known before. One 
after another every church and monastery in the 
town was visited and robbed. The Charterhouse, 
the burial-place of Kings; the Blackfriars monastery, 
where Sovereigns had delighted to hold their Court; 
the chantries and chapels with their priceless treasures, 
were all alike at the mercy of this " rascal multitude," 
who continued their work of destruction all that day, 
the ensuing night, and well into the day which fol 
lowed. Of the beautiful monasteries and churches 
that were the glory of Perth, nought but the ruined 
walls were left standing. So began the work of 
spoliation in Scotland. 

The Regent, who had hastened to Perth, was 
obliged to come to terms with the rebels, while 
Knox, marching to St. Andrews, where a great 
assembly of the Congregation was to be held, destroyed 
on his way the churches at Crail, Anstruther, and 
Cupar. Arrived at St. Andrews, he preached in the 

land " (ii. 49) proves rather conclusively that Mary did not promise 
to withdraw ull proceedings against the preachers, but ilatly refused 
to do so. 

20 



The Parliament of 1360 

cathedral a fiery sermon on the casting out of the 
buyers and sellers from the Temple which so inspired 
his hearers that they proceeded on the spot to destroy 
the cathedral, the Dominican and the Franciscan 
monasteries, and to rifle all the churches in the town. 
It was not long before Stirling, Linlithgow, and even 
Holyrood shared the same fate. 

France, in alarm at the strange tidings, sent troops 
to Leith. This aroused the suspicions of Elizabeth, 
who had already cause to believe that Mary Stuart, 
Queen of Scotland and of France, was aspiring to the 
crown of England. From henceforth, seeing in the 
rebels her safest bulwark against the Guise ambitions, 
she helped them with money and advice. 

On the 19th of October the Congregation, taking 
possession of Edinburgh, ordered the Regent, who 
had fled to Leith, to dismiss all French soldiers from 
the country. On her refusal to do so, a large body 
of Reformers proceeded to the Market Cross, where 
they proclaimed that " we, so many of the nobility, 
barons, and provosts as are touched with care of 
the common weal, suspend the commission granted 
by our Sovereign to the Queen-Dowager." 

The Regent was soon besieged in her fortress of 
Leith, but the rebels were defeated and driven back 
to Stirling. This did not suit the policy of Elizabeth, 
who promptly sent an English army and fleet to 
assist them. Leith, again besieged, again success 
fully resisted the attacking army, but the Regent s 
days were numbered, and she knew it. Sick unto 
death, worn out and broken-hearted, she returned 
to the Castle of Edinburgh and sent for certain of the 
Protestant Lords. Having declared to them her 

21 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

Jove of Scotland and her longing for its peace and 
prosperity, she besought them, as the only way to 
secure both, to drive out both the French and 
English armies, but to be faithful to the old alliance 
with France. A few days later she died. 

Her advice was partly followed. By the Treaty 
of Leith it was agreed that both the French and 
English troops should be withdrawn, and that a 
Parliament should be held in the following August. 

It was indeed a momentous Parliament if Parlia 
ment it was 1 that met on the 1st of August, 1560. 
The House was unusually crowded. All the lesser 
barons, who had only sat before by special writ, 
were present; they were mostly adherents of the new 
religion, and it was necessary to secure their presence 
if the scale was to be turned in favour of the Congrega 
tion. As no commission for the assembly of Parlia 
ment had been received from the King and Queen, 
many disputed the legality of the meeting, but after 
a week spent in hot discussion they were overruled, 
and it was decided to proceed to business. 2 

The Lords of the Articles, whose business it was 
to prepare the measures that were to be brought before 
the House, were then chosen. " The Lords spiritual 
chose the temporal, and the temporal the spiritual; 
the burgesses chose their own," says Randolph; 
but it was found that the peers had chosen from 
among the Lords spiritual only those known to be 

1 " The Convention which established the new creed was abso 
lutely illegal. This, however, is a matter of mere academic in 
terest " (A. Lang, " History of Scotland," ii.). 

2 " A parliament, illegally summoned, had changed the religion 
of the country and had substituted one series of dogmas for another " 
(Rait, " Scotland "). 

22 



The Parliament of 1560 

favourable to the new doctrines. The Bishops 
expostulated, but with no result. 

Immediately afterwards a petition was presented 
begging that the doctrines of the Catholic Church 
should be abolished, particularly those of Transub- 
stantiation, Purgatory, and the Invocation of Saints. 
This document, drawn up with all the coarseness 
and indecency of which Knox was such a master, is 
pronounced by a Protestant historian to be " difficult 
to read without emotions of sorrow and pity." 1 

The petition having been acceded to by a majority 
of members, the ministers were then commanded to 
draw up a short summary of their doctrines. This, 
known as " the Confession of Faith," was accord 
ingly put together and submitted to the House. 
In its trend it was deeply Calvinistic, for Knox, 
the prime mover in the affair, had spent the years of 
his exile in Geneva, the headquarters of Calvin and 
his disciples. The adoption of the Confession of 
Faith marks the separation of the Protestantism of 
Scotland from that of England. The Lutheran 
tenets of the Southern Church were looked upon 
with bitter scorn by Knox, who never lost a chance 
of denouncing the Book of Common Prayer as 
savouring of" Popish Doegs and Devil s inventions." 
The " Confession " having been submitted to the 
Lords of the Articles and to the Three Estates, votes 
were taken, each member in turn being asked his 
opinion on the matter. Five of the temporal peers had 
the courage to vote against the adoption of the new 
creed, declaring that they would believe as their 
fathers had done before them. 

i Tytler, " History of Scotland." 

23 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

Of the Bishops only six were present; three of the 
thirteen sees were vacant; the Bishop of Glasgow was 
in Paris, and the Bishops of Moray, Aberdeen, and 
Ross did not attend. From a letter amongst the 
archives of the Scots College at Paris it is evident 
that the Bishops had expected a settlement of the 
religious question at a properly constituted Parlia 
ment, assembled by royal authority, which had been 
announced for the 20th of August. 1 They had 
arranged to meet the royal commissioner who was 
to come over with the warrant, to confer upon the 
matter, but the summoning of the Parliament, 
without commission, for the 1st, defeated this plan, 
as it was no doubt intended to do. The Bishops of 
Dunkeld and Dunblane, with the Primate, Arch 
bishop Hamilton, protested against the " Confes 
sion," but their protest was wholly unavailing; the 
assembly voted enthusiastically in its favour, and 
the victory was won. 

A Parliament, illegally summoned, says Rait, a 
had changed the religion of the country, and had 
substituted one series of dogmas for another. Of 
liberty or tolerance no one thought. . . . The 
individual conscience, released from the laws of the 
Pope, was henceforth to be bound by the laws of the 
realm, and Papal jurisdiction was to be succeeded 
by the not less formidable courts of the Reformed 
Church. Those who had hitherto secretly favoured 
the Reformed doctrines, says Grub in his " Ecclesias- 

1 A Parliament is proclaimed, fixed for the 20th of August next, 
in which the question of religion will be treated (" Papal Negotia 
tions," Pollen, S.J.). 

* Rait, " Scotland." 

24 



The Parliament of 1560 

tical History of Scotland," or who did not possess 
the principle or courage required in the adherents of a 
fallen cause, now hastened to proclaim their adoption 
of the Protestant opinions. 

In December of the same year, writes Calderw r ood, 
the Presbyterian historian of the Reformation, 
" Francis, husband to our Queen, departed suddenly, 
a matter of joy to the Protestants of France and 
Scotland." Mary Stuart was now a widow, and 
circumstances dictated her return to her native land. 
It was to be for her something more than a simple 
passing from one country to another; the old peaceful, 
happy life was over, and before her lay an uncertain 
future, beset with trials of every kind. " The 
preachers of the Word," wrote Randolph, Elizabeth s 
shrewd Ambassador, to his master, Cecil, " will 
make it too hot for the woman when she comes," 

The " woman," eighteen years old, young, fair, and 
defenceless, was met at Leith by boisterous crowds 
of her loving subjects, all eager to catch a glimpse 
of their young Queen and to make her welcome. 
Such enthusiastic greetings were surely incompatible 
with the dark rumours which she had heard of 
in France; Mary s mind was set at rest, but not 
for long. On the Sunday following her arrival the 
tidings went abroad that Mass was being said in the 
Chapel Royal at Holyrood, and " the hearts of the 
godlie began to swell." A mob raced to the spot 
the very mob that had raced but a few days before 
to meet the Queen at Leith. Bursting into the 
palace, they would have dragged the priest from the 
altar in the very presence of their Sovereign, had not 
Lord James Stuart, Mary s half-brother, barred the 

25 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

way. " Such a noise over one Mass !" commented 
one who was present. But Knox had not hesitated 
to say, " One Mass is more terrible to me than ten 
thousand armed men." 

The "godlie" had been prevented from carrying out 
their project, but on the following day, led by the 
preachers, they assembled at the Market Cross to pro 
claim that " if any of her (the Queen s) servants shall 
commit idolatry, especially say Mass, ( which ) is much 
more abominable than slaughter or murder ... it may 
be lawful to inflict upon them punishment wherever 
they may be apprehended, and without favour." 1 

To Mary, practically a stranger in her own land, 
the audacity of these proceedings was incompre 
hensible. She had recourse for advice to her half- 
brother, Lord James Stuart, whom she created Earl 
of Moray. We find him in the forefront of that 
group of apparent friends whom she trusted one 
after another, and always to her sorrow. To read 
of the Scottish nobles of these days is to read of men 
who bent to every changing wind, who played at 
loyalty with treachery in their hearts, who used 
both their Sovereign and their country as pawns in 
their own game, whose only religion was self-seeking, 
and whose only God their own success. Amongst 
them, like a lamb amongst wolves, stood the young 
Queen, with no faithful servant to whom she could 
turn for help and advice, save an obscure Italian. 
Rizzio was both shrewd and capable, as the Lords of 

1 " The persecuting tenets and assumptions which Knox de 
nounced in the Church of Rome he defended and sought to carry out 
for the maintenance of the Protestant cause " (Grub, " Ecclesiastical 
History of Scotland," ii. 187). 

26 



The Parliament of 1560 

the Congregation soon discovered; he was, moreover, 
a Catholic and wholly devoted to Mary s interests. 
It was decided that he must be removed, and we all 
know the sequel. 

If the nobles betrayed their Queen, the preachers 
openly insulted her. She was denounced from every 
pulpit; her creed, her friends, her amusements, her 
very clothes, were all criticized and blamed in a spirit 
of bitter enmity. " God turn her heart and send her a 
short life," was the piayer for the Queen at the end 
of one of these sermons. But Knox went further 
still, and did not hesitate to insult his Sovereign in 
the very presence of her Council. " All Papists 
are the sonnes of the devil," he told her brutally. 
No wonder that Mary, accustomed to the love and 
reverence of the Court of France, " stood amazed for 
the space of a quarter of an hour " after an interview 
with the man who had declared openly in his sermons 
that the murder of a Papist was acceptable to God. 
The bitter realization that he was the spokesman 
of a body comprising a great number of her subjects 
was yet to come. She looked from nobles to preachers, 
from preachers to people, and found all arrayed 
against her. 

Of those who were watching the progress of affairs 
in Scotland none did so more anxiously than Pope 
Pius V. In 1562 he sent as Legate to the Court of 
Scotland Nicholas de Gouda, priest and Jesuit, 
who drew up a report on the state of religion in the 
country. It is valuable as the testimony of an 
eye-witness. 

" The monasteries are nearly all in ruins," he writes, 
" some are completely destroyed; churches, altars, 

27 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

sanctuaries, are overthrown ... no religious rite 
is celebrated in any part of the kingdom. . . . Mass 
is never said in public, save in the Queen s chapel, 
and none of the Sacraments are publicly admin 
istered. . . . The ministers are either apostate 
monks or laymen of low rank and quite unlearned. 
Their ministrations consist mainly of declamations 
against the supreme Pontiff and the Holy Sacrifice of 
the Mass. The Bishops see all this, and yet make no 
effort . . . but in truth things have gone so far 
that they can do nothing against the heretics. The 
Bishops are for the most part destitute of all personal 
qualifications requisite for taking the lead in such 
stirring times. The only exception is the coadjutor 
Bishop of Dunblane. . . . Only a few religious 
are left ... of the priests but few remain ... a 
large number of the people are still Catholics. . . . 
All these misfortunes the best Catholics consider as 
owing to the suspension of the ordinary mode of 
election to the abbacies and other dignities. These 
preferments are bestowed upon children and other 
incapable persons. . . . The lives of the priests and 
clerics are not unfrequently such as to cause grave 
scandal, an evil increased by the supine indifference 
and negligence of the Bishops themselves. ... It 
is hardly surprising that God s flock is eaten by 
wolves, when such shepherds as these have charge 
of it." 1 

The Legate, de Gouda, had been charged by the 
Pope to see the Queen. Mary was obliged to receive 
him secretly and to dismiss him quickly, lest it might 
be discovered that she was harbouring a Papal 

1 Forbes-Leith, " Narratives of Scottish Catholics." 
28 



The Parliament of 1560 

envoy. He tried to see the Bishops, but only a 
few admitted him, and then only on condition that 
he came in disguise. Rumours of his presence 
in the country got abroad, and it was with no 
little difficulty that he was able to return to the 
Continent. 

His report on the state of religion in Scotland had 
at least one good result. The Pope ordered the 
foundation of colleges abroad where Scottish boys 
might be educated for the priesthood and for mis 
sionary work in their own country. 

The marriage of Mary to her cousin Darnley only 
increased the enmity of the nobles, intent on getting 
the power into their own hands. Plot followed 
plot the murder of Darnley, the Queen s marriage 
with Both well, and the black indictment brought 
against her of unnatural crime. Of the truth of that 
indictment this is not the place to speak, but it is 
well to remember that those who formulated it had 
not only resolved on Mary s ruin, but were men 
who would stick at nothing to obtain their ends. 
Lochleven followed, then one short hour of freedom 
with its quickly extinguished hopes, and Mary of 
Scotland, with that fatal trustfulness which had 
betrayed her so often before, cast herself for protection 
into the arms of a woman who had neither pity nor 
honour. 



29 



CHAPTER III: King, Kirk, 
and Bishops 

WITH Mary Stuart s flight from Scotland 
her reign came practically to an end. Her 
son being still an infant, the country was 
ruled by Regent after Regent until, in 1578, in name 
if not in deed, James took the power into his own 
hands. In the April of 1571, Lennox, the father of 
Darnley, who had succeeded Moray as Regent, cap 
tured Archbishop Hamilton, member of a family 
he had cause to hate, and condemned him to death. 
Clad in his pontifical robes, the last of the pre- 
Reformation prelates was led to the Market Cross 
at Stirling and there hanged " as the bells struck 
six hours to even." Several unknown priests who 
had dared to say Mass were also apprehended and 
sentenced to death, but, the sentence being com 
muted, were " bound to the Market Cross with their 
vestments and challices in derision, where the people 
pelted eggs at their faces by the space of an hour, and 
thereafter their vestments and challices were burnt 
to ashes." 1 

Under the Regency of Mar a step was taken which 

was to lead to much trouble in after years. The 

King s party were desperately in need of money, the 

last of the Catholic ecclesiastics were dying off, 

and the revenues of the vacant sees were claimed 

by both King and Kirk alike. Morton, greedy and 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents. 

30 



King, Kirk) and Bishops 

unscrupulous, and paramount in the Government, 
was determined to have the money, and through his 
influence a Convention was held at Leith, at which 
were appointed pseudo-Bishops men who, while 
drawing the revenues of the ancient sees, consented 
to pass on the money to those by whose influence 
they had been nominated. 

To the ministers of the Kirk the very name of 
Bishop was anathema. So tremendous an outcry 
was raised that it was eventually conceded that the 
new prelates should be subject in all things to the 
presbyteries and the General Assembly. This sub 
jection was by no means nominal, the " Tulchan " 
Bishop of Galloway being condemned to do public 
penance for having dared to pray openly for 
his Sovereign, Queen Mary, then a prisoner in 
England. 

During all these years the Catholics had remained 
faithful to their Queen, and it is not improbable that 
they would have prevailed against the Protestant 
faction had not Elizabeth of England provided the 
latter with money and troops. Until 1575 the 
supporters of Mary held Edinburgh Castle, but with 
its fall they seem to have lost heart. 

At the death of Knox in 1572, Andrew Melville 
became leader of the Presbyterian party. He dreamt 
of establishing in Scotland such another theocracy 
as that of Calvin in Geneva, and to this end waged 
bitter war on the Regent Morton, who detested 
both the preachers and their assumption of power. 
Both were strong men, and their incessant quarrels 
were the beginning of that long struggle between 
the Episcopalians and Presbyterians which was to 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

culminate in the overthrow of Laud and the death of 
Charles I. 

In 1578 James began his reign. A mere boy in 
years, he had already experienced the dire necessity 
of trimming his sails to the changing wind. The 
Assembly sent a deputation to congratulate the 
young King on having taken over the direction of 
affairs, and James, it is recorded, not only " gave a 
very comfortable good answer," but promised to be 
a protector of the Kirk. His protection, it must be 
avowed, had its peculiarities. The pretensions of 
the preachers were on the increase, and their view 
of the relations between Church and State differed 
considerably from that of their royal Master. For 
many years the latter had little opportunity of 
enforcing his own opinions, but, notwithstanding the 
apparently amicable relations dictated by policy, 
there was always an undercurrent of hostility between 
Court and Kirk. A characteristic of the Presby 
terian Church was the importance it attached to 
preaching. Gouda, in his report to Rome, mentions 
specially that " the nobility and people crowd to 
the sermons." This cannot be wondered at, for 
to the multitude, eager for any kind of excitement, 
the sermons must have been an unalloyed delight. 
It is Carlyle who sees in Knox the " constitutional 
opposition party," while Andrew Lang finds in the 
pre-Reformation sermons a foreshadowing of the 
modern press. 

The preachers claimed all along the right to say 
exactly what they chose, considering it their chief 
business to denounce the Court and its doings. 
James may well have objected to being obliged to 

32 



King, Kirk) and Bishops 

listen to sermons which were practically a resume* 
of his own doings and those of his friends, enlivened 
by the caustic comments of the minister; but that 
these discourses were interesting to the people no one 
will deny. Men would not have been human had 
they not enjoyed such piquant addresses, more 
especially so when the King himself happened to be 
present. In St. Giles s Cathedral he occupied a 
gallery but a few feet from the pulpit, and it was 
no uncommon thing for the sermon to be interrupted 
by an impromptu argument between the preacher 
and his indignant Sovereign. In England, when a 
like incident had taken place, the drastic treatment 
meted out by Elizabeth to the offender had dis 
couraged a repetition of the offence. James could 
interrupt, but dared not, like his cousin of England, 
dismiss the preacher. 

Even the prayers were of a topical character. 
" It is a shame to all religion to have the Majesty 
of God so barbarously spoken unto," was James s 
indignant comment when his own misdeeds, real 
or imaginary, had been the subject of a long and 
eloquent prayer. Small wonder that the King had 
little love for the preachers and small regard for the 
inspiration which they claimed to possess. The 
General Assembly had a powerful weapon in the 
excommunication which was dealt round impar 
tially to those who opposed its decrees, and which 
amounted practically to outlawry. 

That James had a sneaking preference for the 
episcopal form of Church government was not un 
known to the leaders of the Kirk, who at the Assembly 
of 1580 had attempted to checkmate any possible 

33 c 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

movement in that direction by abolishing the title 
of Bishop. The enactment held good for four years, 
when the Earl of Gowrie, having made one of the 
periodical attempts to seize the King s person and 
failed, fell into disgrace. As Gowrie was one of 
the leaders of the Presbyterian party, his downfall 
caused it to lose for a time its supremacy, and 
Melville and other moving spirits were obliged to 
take refuge in England. James was not slow to 
take advantage of their absence. He summoned a 
Parliament, and appointed Bishops, giving them 
authority over both ministers and presbyteries; 
but his term of power was short-lived. The exiled 
nobles, returning in force to Scotland, seized Stirling 
Castle, and at the good news the ministers flocked 
back to Scotland. The tables were now turned, and 
the King, with his newly appointed Bishops, was at the 
mercy of the Kirk, whose pretensions grew with this 
unexpected success. James was obliged for the 
moment to content himself with occasional out 
bursts of expostulation, as when he addressed a 
deputation of ministers as " loons, snakes, and sedi 
tious knaves," or remonstrated sharply with one of 
the returned ministers on his choice of a text for 
a sermon preached in St. Giles s Cathedral. The 
preacher, however, having declared himself directly 
inspired by God even to the choice of his text, 
triumphantly resumed his discourse. 

As for the Bishops, it was decided that they should 
be allowed to retain the name; but all their powers 
were withdrawn, and they were obliged to take 
charge of a parish and consider themselves under the 
supervision of the presbyteries. 

34 



King, Kirk, and Bishops 

In 1587, when the nets were being drawn ever 
closer round the ill-fated Mary Stuart, the nobles 
urged the King to take some steps on her behalf. 
Although historians have tried to make excuses for 
James s conduct, there seems but little doubt that 
he deliberately left his mother to her fate. He con 
tented himself with ordering prayers for her welfare 
(which most of the ministers refused to say), and at 
the tragic news of her death merely " investit himself 
with a dull weid of purple for certain days," going 
to bed that night " without his supper." So the 
simple chronicler of his life. 1 

Catholic missionaries had now for some time 
been labouring in Scotland, and in 1586 the Assembly 
suddenly awoke to the fact that people were begin 
ning to fall away from the new religion. They com 
plained to the King that Catholics were still allowed 
to meet unmolested in Dunfermline and Dumfries 
shire, declaring that the people of Ross had become 
cold to " religion " since the coming of the Jesuits 
amongst them. The complaints broke out a little 
later with increased bitterness, the horrified preachers 
having discovered that pilgrimages were still being 
made to certain holy shrines, and that the feasts of 
Easter, Christmas, and Ascensiontide were once more 
being openly celebrated in various parts of the country. 

In 1589 took place one of the first of the steps which 
were to lead to the alliance of the Scottish Presby 
terians with the English Puritans. The official 
English Church, with its episcopacy and ritual, 
had always been detested by the Scottish Reformers, 

1 " Historic of King James the Sext," by an anonymous writer 
of the sixteenth century. 

35 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

who considered as their real brethren the various 
sects who formed that Puritan party which Elizabeth 
despised and hated. When the rumour reached 
Scotland that laws were being enacted against the 
Puritans, the Scottish pulpits echoed with fervent 
prayers " for our afflicted brethren," a token of 
sympathy which greatly displeased Her Majesty of 
England. " I pray you stop the mouths or shorten 
the tongues," she wrote to James, of " such ministers 
who dare make oraison in their pulpits for those 
persecuted in England for the gospel," adding, with 
a flash of the Tudor temper, " I will not stand such 
indignity at such caterpillars hands." James, 
though fully in sympathy with her sentiments, was 
wholly incapable of shortening the tongues or 
stopping the mouths of any of his loyal subjects. 
When, a little later in the year, he had a quarrel 
with the ministers on the subject of his claim to 
" sovereign judgement on all things within the 
realm," the Rev. Mr. Pont informed him roundly 
in the name of the Kirk that " there is a judgement 
above yours, and that is God s, put in the hands of 
the ministers." In the following November it was 
announced from the pulpit that the King could be 
excommunicated in case of contumacy and dis 
obedience to the will of God. As the ministers con 
sidered themselves in all cases the sole interpreters 
of the will of God, this was practically a claim to 
complete supremacy in the realm. It can hardly be 
wondered at that James, turning with longing eyes to 
the decently discreet Church " by law established " 
in England, uttered what was to become the war-cry 
of the future, " No Bishops, no King." 

36 



King, Kirk, and Bishops 

In 1593 some of the Catholic nobles rebelled 
against the persecution to which they were subjected 
by the Kirk. The Earl of Huntly rallied his clansmen ; 
an army under the Earl of Argyll was sent to meet 
them, and a battle was fought at Glenlivet. The 
Catholics, who had heard Mass and received Holy 
Communion on the hillside in the dusk of the early 
morning, charged the foe with the old Catholic cry 
of " The Virgin Mary," and won a complete victory. 
A solemn Te Deum was chanted on the field of battle, 
but Huntly s success was short-lived. James, 
alarmed at this show of his vassal s power, allied 
himself for once with the preachers, and took the 
field at the head of a large army. Huntly and his 
followers were defeated, and James, elated by success, 
decided that he was now strong enough to cope with 
the Kirk. He was soon undeceived. Melville, in 
an interview that has become historical, addressing 
him as " God s silly vassal," remarked suggestively, 
shaking him by the sleeve the while to emphasize 
his words, that " there are here twa kingdoms and 
twa kings. There is Christ and His kingdom the 
Kirk, whose subject you, King James the Sext, are; 
and not therein a King or lord, but only a member." 

The Assembly insisted that the Catholic Lords 
should be proclaimed and outlawed. To this James 
demurred, for he looked upon all enemies of the 
ministers as useful allies, but he was obliged to give 
in. Amongst those denounced by name were the 
Earl of Huntly; his uncle, Father James Gordon of 
the Society of Jesus; Father William Ogilvie, another 
Jesuit; and the Earl of Errol. Although James was 
forced to issue the proclamation, his known partiality 

37 



A Scottish Knight- Rrr ant 

for Huntly and Father Gordon had the practical 
effect of rendering it null. The anger of the preachers 
rose, Mr. John Ross going so far as to announce 
from the pulpit that the King " was no better than 
an open oppressor of the Kirk." " We have had," 
said he, " many of his fayre wordis, wherein he is 
mighty enough, but few of his gude deddis. Of all 
men in this nation, the King is the maist fair and 
maist dissembling hypocrite." 

This was more than even James could stand. He 
complained formally to the Assembly, and Ross was 
summoned before the Kirk, where he defended 
himself in a manner so much to the liking of the 
assembled brethren that he was acquitted. James, 
now thoroughly roused, defied the Kirk, and by an 
Order in Council Ross was banished. 

The complex nature of the body known as the 
General Assembly, which has been described as Board 
of Trade, War Office, and national police rolled into 
one, can be seen by the fact that when it met in 
1594, all trafficking with Spain, necessitating as it 
did constant intercourse with Papists, was forbidden. 
But the people, although enthusiastic for purity of 
doctrine, were not prepared to go to the length of 
giving up a very profitable commerce to secure it, 
and the merchants raised such an outcry that the 
Assembly relented so far as to allow them to go to 
Spain to receive the moneys due to them. 

In 1596, a rumour being rife that the King had 
omitted the reading of the Gospel at table, a Com 
mission was appointed to inquire into the spiritual 
state of His Majesty and his household. A deputation 
of ministers set out accordingly for Holyrood, their 

38 



King, Kirk-, and Bishops 

wives having kindly undertaken to perform the same 
office with regard to the Queen and her ladies. 
James, being found guilty of having neglected the 
reading of the Gospel at table, was severely re 
primanded and ordered to remove certain obnoxious 
persons from the Court ; but Anne of Denmark, more 
spirited than her royal consort, sent word to the 
horror-stricken ladies that she was too busy dancing 
to be bothered with them. Dancing was one of the 
capital sins in the preachers decalogue. 

James s patience was now worn out, and he began 
to show openly the resentment that he had until 
then endeavoured more or less to conceal. It was 
probably on account of this that Mr. John Walsh, 
commenting to his congregation at St. Giles s on 
the King s misdoings, declared that whereas the 
King " had been possessed with ane devil, now the 
ane driven out had been replaced by seven worse 
spirits." The sermon was preached when matters 
were at a crisis. The Assembly, repudiating the 
King, proceeded to appoint a " Committee of Public 
Safety," to which move James replied by ordering 
all the preachers to leave the city. The Assembly 
retorted by announcing that its members were 
responsible for all their actions to God alone, and 
such being the case, would remain in the city or 
leave it according to their pleasure. The city 
churches rang to the usual denunciatory sermons, 
and rioting broke out in Edinburgh. 1 James, equal 

1 The tumult of the 17th of December has been excused as an 
accidental outburst of popular fury ; but there were circumstances 
connected with it which plainly showed a deliberate purpose of 
resistance to the royal authority (Grub, " Ecclesiastical History 
of Scotland," ii. 269). 

39 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

for once to the occasion, quelled them with such 
determination that the ministers were obliged to 
seek safety in flight. He then reduced the population 
to order by threatening to remove the Court from 
the capital, and to return to it no more. A young 
Scotsman of the name of John Ogilvie, then a student 
at Louvain, heard of these disturbances, and made 
good use of the information in after days. The 
Assembly which met at Perth a few months later was 
a chastened body; the high- water mark of its power 
had been reached, and the tide was already on the ebb. 

By 1600 James had permanently gained the upper 
hand, while the Bishops, nominated and protected 
by the King, were gradually freeing themselves from 
the bondage in which the Kirk had held them. In 
1605, when James was at last firmly seated on the 
throne of " that Blessed defunct Ladie," as he 
thought fit to describe the murderer of his mother, 
the General Assembly made one despei ite effort 
to recover its lost power. Defying the King s 
prohibition, the ministers met in Council and pro 
ceeded to business, but the meeting was dispersed 
and six of the leaders thrown into prison. 

The power of the Bishops, on the other hand, 
went on increasing. In 1610, by " menaces and 
threats," James " caused the synods ... to choose 
James Spottiswoode, Archbishop of Glasgow, their 
moderator; which election divers of the ministers 
did oppose, but were so dealt with that they gave 
in." The tables were now completely turned, and 
the office of Bishop, which had been " solemnly 
damned " in 1550, was an established thing. But 
the submission of the ministers, compelled as it 

40 



King, Kirk, and Bishops 

was by sheer necessity, was more apparent than 
real. Every act of the Bishops was narrowly 
watched by the preachers, who were merely biding 
their time until the fleeting years should bring them 
once more the power they had lost. 

Until 1610 the Scottish Bishops had been appointed 
solely on the nomination of the King, there being 
no pretence even at any form of consecration. To 
remedy this state of affairs Spottiswoode and ten 
other Bishops were summoned to London, there 
to receive " such episcopal orders as their English 
brethren could confer." 1 " On their return," says 
Row, " they did to the Archbishop of St. Andrews 
as they were done withal at Lambeth, as near as 
they could possibly imitate." 2 

The Presbyterians, whose one aim had been to 
obliterate from their country every trace of Catholic 
rite and ritual, had now to look on in impotence 
while the new Bishops introduced the ceremonies of the 
English Protestant Church, almost as distasteful to 
the Kirk as those of " Popery." Their angry protests 
were all to the same end these men could be no true 
Protestants; they were but Papists in disguise, or 
at least sympathizers with the Papists. In vain did 
the Bishops repudiate such an idea. " Prove your 
selves," was the sum of the reply; " fine words avail 
nothing." In one way, and one alone, could the 

1 Row, " History of Scotland," Wodrow Society. 

2 The English Bishop Andrews moved that the three Scots 
Bishops should " first be ordained presbyters because they had not 
episcopal ordination." The Archbishop of Canterbury said that 
he saw no necessity, because " ordination by a presbyter is lawful 
when Bishops cannot be had, or else it might be doubted if there 
were a lawful mission in the Reformed churches." 

41 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

Bishops show that they were free from any tendency 
to Catholicism by the persecution of those who 
were staunch to the old Faith. Clinging in despera 
tion to this plank of safety, they sought for a 
victim, and when their need was at its greatest, 
found one close at hand in the person of John 
Ogilvie, ptiest and Jesuit. The Bishops were on 
their probation; the hostile Kirk, eager for their 
ruin, was watching. Such was the state of affairs 
in the spring of the year 1615. Two years later 
John Ogilvie landed in Scotland. 



42 



PART II 
THE CONFLICT 



CHAPTER I : The Boyhood of 
John Ogilvie 

IN the year 1583 a certain Sir Walter Ogilvie 
was owner of " all the lands and baronnies of 
Ogilvie and Drumnakeith." He had married 
Agnes Elphinstone, daughter of a noble Lowland 
family, who died leaving one daughter. In 1583 
Sir Walter married again. During the interval 
which elapsed between his first and second marriage 
he had improved his position from a worldly point 
of view, by adopting the doctrines of the Reformed 
Faith, and was consequently able to choose a wife 
from one of the greatest families in Scotland. The 
lady on whom his choice fell was no less a person 
than the Lady Mary Douglas, daughter of the Earl 
of Morton, and grand-daughter of the Lady Douglas 
who had been gaoler to the unfortunate Mary Stuart 
at Lochleven. By this second marriage Sir Walter 
had seven children, five sons and two daughters, the 
eldest, born at Drum in the year 1583, being John 
Ogilvie, the future martyr. 

The remains of the house of Drumnakeith are still 
to be seen in the valley of the Isla. It lies in the 
heart of the country inhabited at that time by the 
great clan of the Gordons and ruled over by its chief, 
the Earl of Huntly, whose influence and power had 
won for him the proud title of " Cock of the North." 
These lands had passed into. the hands of the Ogilvies 
as a wedding portion when an Ogilvie of the old days 

45 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

had taken a Gordon to wife. This marriage, which 
might have united the two clans, seems to have had 
a directly opposite effect, for a quarrel over the estates 
led to a bitter feud in which many on both sides lost 
their lives. Although the Ogilvies, in spite of their 
powerful enemies, managed to retain the lands, ill feel 
ing continued to increase, with the result that in the 
frequent quarrels among the clans, the Gordons 
and the Ogilvies would invariably be found on 
opposite sides, eager for a chance of paying off old 
scores. 

A Highlander by birth, John Ogilvie spent the 
early years of his life among this hardy, if somewhat 
turbulent people. Differing in customs, dress, and 
language, no less than in character, from the Lowland 
Scots, the Highlanders were chiefly remarkable for 
their courage and endurance. They were divided 
into separate clans, each one of which formed a great 
family, ruled over by the head or chieftain, who held 
his lands by the power of the sword and by the 
allegiance of his people. " Throughout the State 
correspondence of the day," says Hill Burton, " there 
is ever a tone of respect for the strength and capacity 
of the Highland Scots, however troublesome their 
presence is sometimes found. They are a valiant 
nation, able to endure the miseries of war, and pleased 
with any entertainment, be it ever so little." They 
had their own code of honour, of which the first articles 
were loyalty to their chief and observance of the laws 
of hospitality. The quarrel of the chief was that 
of the clansman, and to this community of interests 
and the belief that revenge for an injury was the 
most sacred of duties, were due most of the bloody 



The Boyhood of John Ogilme 

feuds which made of the Scottish Highlands a 
perpetual battlefield. 

In the sixteenth century the clan of the Gordons 
was paramount in the North both in numbers and in 
influence. When the Reformation brought a new 
seed of dissension into the country, Huntly and his 
followers remained true to the old Faith, while many 
of the Forbeses, Ogilvies, and Leslies, owing to their 
jealousy of the powerful Gordons, threw in their lot 
with the Reformers. The question, like most others, 
was decided by the chieftains, and the faithful clans 
men often found themselves confronted with a hard 
choice. Either they must renounce the Faith of their 
fathers or fail in loyalty to their chief. In a certain 
part of the Western Highlands Presbyterianism is 
still known as "the religion of the Yellow Stick," 
owing to the tradition that a chieftain who had 
himself adopted the new doctrines proceeded to cane 
his followers, less firmly convinced than he of the 
advisability of the change, into the Presbyterian Kirk. 

But even while professing to follow the new re 
ligion, the Highlanders were slow to relinquish the 
Catholic customs in which they had been brought up. 
They would still celebrate the old seasons of Yule 
and Paschaltide, and in many cases, long after the 
Faith itself was lost, they would assemble to sing 
the old Catholic hymns and carols, to visit the holy 
wells, or make long pilgrimages to the old shrines 
of the Blessed Virgin. 

" In Scotland, wherever there existed remnants 

of the old apparatus of idolatry," says the historian 

Hill Burton, 1 " zealots would be found prowling 

i " History of Scotland." 

47 



A Scottish K night- Rrr ant 

about them in adoration. In corners of the vast ruins 
of Elgin Cathedral groups of Popish worshippers 
assembled secretly down to the reign of Queen Anne. 
In remote places, where there were shrines, crosses, 
or holy founts, the people, though nominally Pro 
testant, were found practising some traditional 
remnant of the old idolatry. Crosses, shrines, and 
other artificial attractions to such irregularities 
might be removed, but there remained the most 
significant of all, the old centres of devotion, the 
consecrated wells, the springs of water from which, 
according to the traditions of the old Church, the 
earliest missionaries made the first converts to 
Christianity. The documents of the Church of 
Scotland for centuries are filled with these causes of 
backsliding." 

Among such people as these, simple, hardy, and 
brave, John Ogilvie spent the early years of his 
life. Although Sir Walter Ogilvie, and presumably 
his wife, had conformed to the new doctrines, the 
country people about their home were Catholics, 
and their children must often have heard stories 
of the olden days. They would have seen and there 
would not have been wanting people to tell the thrilling 
tale the stone at Kirkmichael to which only a few 
years before the faithful parish priest had been bound 
and burnt to death. Nor was this an isolated in 
stance of the treatment meted out to the successors 
of St. Columba and St. Ninian by the men who 
stigmatized the Mass as idolatry and superstition. 
In the Diurnal of Occurrents, the 4th of May, 1574, we 
find the following curt entry: " There was ane priest 
hangit in Glasgow, callit * * * *, for saying Mass." 

48 



The Boyhood of John Ogilvie 

Already there were missionaries abroad, ready 
to face imprisonment and death if only they might 
win a few souls back to the Faith. The boy John 
Ogilvie must often have seen strange men passing 
through the valley, and noticed the eager welcome 
they received from those who knew that the pedlar 
carried a more precious burden than the treasures 
in his pack, and that the wandering soldier served 
a greater King than James of Scotland. 

Those were wild times. The fiery cross would 
often flash out through the darkness of the night, 
and the well-known cry, " Help a Gordon ! a Gordon !" 
which summoned the great clan to their chieftain s aid, 
would ring through the quiet valley. News from 
the great world outside would sometimes penetrate to 
the lonely house among the hills, and the return of 
Sir Walter from one of his many journeys would be 
eagerly looked for. For young John knew, as who 
in Scotland did not, that Mary Stuart, their Queen, 
lay a prisoner in England at the mercy of a jealous 
woman. In the early months of 1587 came a fearful 
rumour a rumour that had the power to unite in a 
common desire for action every class and clan in the 
country. Scotland s Queen, it was whispered, was 
to be tried for treason, condemned, and put to death. 
James VI. ordered prayers for his mother s safety, 
and the women prayed with all their hearts, though 
the men would rather have laid hold of their weapons 
in one desperate effort to tear their Queen from 
Elizabeth s clutches. But James was not of heroic 
mould, and even his order for public prayer was set 
at defiance by the godly. The ministers of the Kirk 
flatly refused to pray for Mary Stuart, and a scene 

49 D 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

was enacted in the capital that set half Scotland 
laughing and the other half cursing; for it was 
James s misfortune, if not his fault, that when he 
most wished to be taken seriously he was often the 
centre of a comedy. Since the ministers would not 
pray for his mother, he determined to conduct the 
prayer-meeting himself, and set off for St. Giles s 
with an armed guard and the notorious Adamson, 
Archbishop of St. Andrews, who was to take the 
rebellious ministers place. But the Kirk had been 
beforehand, and the royal party arrived to find the 
pulpit already occupied by one of its members, a young 
minister of the name of Cowpcr. James, now rather 
at a loss, ordered the preacher to pray for his mother, 
to which royal mandate the minister, with the 
courtesy which seems to have distinguished his kind, 
replied that he " would do just as the Spirit of God 
directed him." The King bade him come down 
from the pulpit; then, as he showed no signs of 
obeying, the captain of the guard stepped forward 
to give him a helping hand, whereupon he sullenly 
descended, muttering that " that day would rise up 
in witness against the King on the great day of the 
Lord." In the confusion that ensued, most of the 
congregation followed the minister out of the church. 
4 What devil ails the people," cried James in a 
pet, " that they will not stay to hear a man preach ?" 
But the last of the godly were already vanishing 
through the open doorway, and the King and the 
Archbishop were left to conduct the meeting as best 
they could. News of the ridiculous scene flew through 
the country, while fast on its heels came the dreadful 
tidings that while James had been wasting his time 

50 



The Boyhood of John Ogilme 

in such futile wranglings, the unfoitunate Queen 
had been beheaded at Fotheringay. Horror and 
indignation were rife; nobles and Catholics united in 
urging the King to avenge his mother s death, but 
a weak protest, promptly quenched by a handsome 
gift of money from Elizabeth, was sufficient to satisfy 
the filial love of Mary Stuart s son. " Thus," says 
an old writer, " all memory of Queen Mary s murder 
was buried. The King received their ambassador, 
and by his persuasion is become their yearly pensioner. 
What honesty the common weal receives thereby I 
think that posterity shall better know than this time 
can judge; for more just occasion of war had never 
prince on the earth nor this prince had." 1 

To the Ogilvies the terrible news would have 
caused a deeper sorrow than to many others; for the 
old days at Lochleven must have been often in Lady 
Ogilvie s mind, when, playing as a child with her 
sisters, she would catch a glimpse of the sad face of 
the beautiful Queen of Scotland, a prisoner within 
the castle walls. She would tell to her children, no 
doubt, the thrilling story of Mary s deliverance, 
effected so cleverly by young Douglas, their own 
great-uncle, and their hearts would burn within them 
at the tale. Alas ! there was but one consolation 
left in those sorrowful days for those of Mary Stuart s 
subjects who had still remained faithful to their 
Queen her long and bitter sufferings were at last 
at an end. 

A year had scarcely passed when the news of the 

sailing of the great Armada sent a fresh thrill through 

the country, a thrill of hope to some, of fear to 

1 " Historic of King James the Sext." 

51 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

others. " Terrible was the fear," says James Mel 
ville, 1 "piercing were the preachings, earnest, 
zealous, and fervent were the prayers, sounding were 
the sighs and sobs, and abounding were the tears " 
of the brethren. 

In the Catholic North the feeling was very di ffcrent. 
The Scottish Catholics, unlike their English brethren, 
would have welcomed a victory that might have set 
them free from a relentless persecution. They looked 
to Spain as their only hope; ,.the enemies of their 
Faith were more hateful to them than the enemies 
of their country. i4 The Scottish Catholics," says 
Andrew Lang, 2 " could only hope to escape a grinding 
persecution by the aid of foreign Powers." The news 
of the defeat of the Armada soon reached the North, 
where the want uf enthusiasm at the tidings was the 
signal for a fresh outburst of persecution. 

Little is knowfi of the early years of John Ogilvie s 
life. In all probability, like most of the sons of the 
Highland gentry in that part of the world, he was 
sent to the High School at Aberdeen, where every 
thing would seem strange to the young Highlander. 
The Saxon tongue would have to be substituted for 
the soft Gaelic of his childhood, and the doublet and 
hose of the citizens would seem like the dress of 
another country to eyes accustomed to the tartan. 
The townsmen of Aberdeen had a wholesome fear 
of their Highland neighbours, which, if the old 
chronicles tell us true, was not without foundation. 
The city was well walled and guarded by night and 
by day; every man was required to have his javelin, 
axe, and halbert handy at his side, and to use them, 

i " Memoirs." * " History of Scotland." 

52 



The Boyhood of John Ogilme 

too, when occasion called him to the defence of the 
town. The rival clans, as a matter of fact, found it 
a very convenient battle-ground, and many a quarrel 
between citizens and Highlanders, as well as between 
the different Highland factions, had been settled in 
the streets of Aberdeen. 

In the High School, an old Catholic foundation 
which had been appropriated by the Kirk, the tradi 
tions of the old Faith died hard, and the ministers 
in possession found their position rather a thorny 
one. The boys, mostly Highlanders, to whom 
fighting came as naturally as swimming to a duck, 
were as wild as their fathers. In the old Catholic 
days holidays at Yuletide and at Easter had been a 
matter of course, and were looked upon by each 
generation of schoolboys as an unalterable privilege, 
if not a right. The Kirk, however, had decreed that 
the observation of the birthday of the Saviour of 
the world and of His Resurrection was abominable 
superstition and idolatry; the school was to be kept 
open and lessons given as usual. But they had not 
reckoned with schoolboy nature; and the scholars, 
taking the law into their own hands, did what the 
boldest of their parents feared to do, defied them 
openly. The arrival of Christmastime was invariably 
the signal for a riot which culminated in the boys 
taking forcible possession of the school, barricading 
the doors, and keeping the ministers and the city 
fathers successfully at bay for close on a fortnight. 

In 1590 the celebration of James s marriage with 
Anne of Denmark gave rise to festivities all over the 
country. The King, always in need of money, yet 
anxious to make an imposing appearance on this 

53 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

important occasion, had recourse to all kinds of 
expedients to attain his end. Quaint notes were 
sent out to the nobles and Highland lords, begging 
gifts of " fat beef " and " mutton on foot," and " wild 
fowls and venison." From the Earl of Mar he 
coaxingly begs the loan of " the pair of silk hose " 
to wear at the wedding, adding pathetically, "ye 
wadna that your King suld appear a scrub on sic an 
occasion." From another friend he asks " the loan 
of some silver spoons to grace his marriage-feast." 
He implores his Council to do all that they can to 
make the reception of the newly married pair as 
imposing as possible. " A King of Scotland with a 
newly married wyfe will not come hame every day," 
he urges. The Council seem to have risen to the oc 
casion, for we read that on the arrival of the Queen 
in Edinburgh " there was forty- two young men all 
clade in white tafl etie, and visors of black colour 
on their faces, like Moors, all full of gold cheynes, that 
dancit before her Grace all the way." The wedding- 
present of James to his bride consisted of three sub 
stantial gold chains made from one of great length 
" borrowed " by him from Arran for the purpose. 
Arran did not like to refuse, " for gin he had refused 
he would have tint the King, and in delivering of it 
he should tyne the chain." 

Even then poor James was not at the end of his 
troubles, for the Kirk decided that the coronation 
ceremony was idolatrous, and told him that his bride 
would have to do without it. But this time the 
King was equal to the occasion. He shrewdly 
remarked that if the ministers had scruples, the 
Bishops would have none, and this settled the 

54 



The Boyhood of John Ogilme 

question. The idolatrous anointing was performed 
by Mr. Robert Bruce, who poured forth upon the 
young Queen " a bonny quantitie of oil." 

Soon after the royal wedding a fresh disturbance 
broke out. The Earls of Huntly and Moray quar 
relled, and the fighting that ensued reduced three 
counties to a state of civil war. Huntly and his army 
ventured as far south as Fife, where Moray was 
murdered by the Gordons. James, angry but unable 
at the time to punish Huntly, had recourse to an 
old trick of the Scottish monarchs when in a similar 
predicament. He urged the Mackintoshes to attack 
the Gordons, a behest which they were nothing loth 
to obey, for they had many an old score to pay off. 
But the attempt was a failure; the Gordons com 
pletely defeated their antagonists, with the result 
that " sundry parts of the north countries were so 
wreckit and stricken that great numbers of honest 
and peaceable folks were murtherit, their homes 
burnt, their goods spoilt and dispersit." ] The Earl 
of Argyll was despatched with a large army to reduce 
Huntly to order, but without success. An action 
was fought at Glenlivet, where Argyll was disastrously 
defeated, leaving Huntly master of the field. James, 
now thoroughly roused, determined to march against 
the conqueror at the head of his royal troops, but 
at this news Huntly lost heart and determined, 
together with Errol and Angus, to leave the country. 
Their decision was vigorously opposed by Father 
James Gordon, a cousin of Huntly s, who clearly 
foresaw that the Catholic cause would undoubtedly 
suffer should the three most powerful of its leaders 

i " Historic of King James the Sext." 
55 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

go abroad. The Catholic Earls, however, persisted 
in their intention, and preparations were made for 
their departure. On the day they were to set sail 
High Mass was celebrated for the last time in Elgin 
Cathedral. The great building, one of the glories 
of Catholic Scotland, was filled to overflowing. 
After the reading of the Gospel, Father Gordon 
preached a short sermon, in the course of which 
he begged the three Earls to reconsider once more 
a resolution that would be so fatal to the Catholic 
cause. They remained obdurate, and when the 
Mass was over took horse to the sea-coast and set 
sail for France. Within a few weeks of their de 
parture they were, together with Father Gordon, 
condemned to banishment; they had merely antici 
pated the sentence. 

In the same year, 1593, young John Ogilvie and 
Francis Douglas, son of the Earl of Angus, went 
abroad to complete their education. 

The progress of affairs in Scotland was anxiously 
watched by the Catholic priests who had been 
driven into exile on the Continent, and who found 
it hard to give up the hope that a better day 
would soon dawn for their unhappy country. The 
rapid growth of Calvinism, however, soon brought 
home to them the sad conviction that Scotland could 
no longer be looked upon as a Catholic country. The 
great work of the future, they now realized, would 
be the education of Catholic priests to labour on the 
Mission, ready, if need be, to give their lives in the 
attempt to win back their countrymen to the Faith. 
Mary Stuart had been the first to realize this truth, 
and from her English prison had encouraged Bishop 

56 



The Boyhood of John Ogilvie 

Lesley to seek help at Rome for the establishment 
of Scots colleges on the Continent. The Scottish 
Benedictines had several foundations abroad, notably 
at Vienna and Ratisbon, but by the end of the 
sixteenth century most of these had been alienated 
from their original owners. Ratisbon, however, 
still remained in their hands, although the community 
had dwindled until it consisted of two monks and 
the Abbot. Thither, in the times of persecution, 
went the Scottish sons of St. Benedict, exiles from 
their own country, and a college was soon opened, 
with the famous Ninian Winzet at its head. But one 
college was insufficient for the need,, and a small 
seminary was founded a little later by a Scottish 
priest, Dr. James Cheyne, for the training of boys 
destined for the priesthood. When John Ogilvie 
went there in 1593 it had been removed to Douai, 
and was in charge of the Jesuits. 

To a Highland lad of those days Douai might well 
seem to be the ends of the earth, though the excite 
ment and novelty of the new life which was opening 
before him would no doubt soften the pang of parting 
from home and family. 

It may be asked how young John Ogilvie, nurtured, 
apparently, in the Calvinistic creed, found his way 
to a Jesuit college to be trained as a Catholic priest. 
The matter remains a mystery. Catholic missionaries, 
it is true, were constantly passing backwards and 
forwards between Scotland and the Continent, it being 
the favourite route for even the English priests. 
" Scotland is the common passage for English cater 
pillars into foreign parts," wrote one of the Continental 
spies to his English master. In 1593 Father William 

57 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

Ogilvie, S.J., formerly chaplain to the Earl of Angus, 
and possibly a relation of the Ogilvies of Drumna- 
keith, was one of these travellers. It may have been 
through his influence that the boy was sent abroad. 

Although the fact has been established beyond 
doubt that the martyred John Ogilvie was the eldest 
son and heir of Sir Walter Ogilvie of Drum, we 
cannot be so certain that the Lady Mary Douglas was 
his mother. If the date of his birth was, as asserted 
by Father Forbes-Leith in his " Vie de Jean Ogilvie," 
somewhere between 1579 and 1580, he certainly was 
not, for Sir Walter s second marriage only took place 
in 1582. If, therefore, the date of his birth is cor 
rectly given, he must have been the son of Agnes 
Elphinstone, Sir Walter s first wife, and this may 
throw some light on the circumstance of the boy s 
being sent abroad to a Catholic college to be educated. 
Agnes Elphinstone s brother joined the Society of 
Jesus, and died a saintly death in the Jesuit novitiate 
at Naples. It is quite possible that his sister may 
have remained true in her heart to the old Faith, 
and obtained from her husband the promise that her 
children should be brought up in it. In this case 
the difficulty would at once be solved. The second 
wife, with four sons of her own, would not be likely 
to object to a measure which would leave the inheri 
tance open to her own family. As, however, neither 
the date of John Ogilvie s arrival at Briinn nor that 
of his birth is definitely known, the question is open 
to conjecture. 

In an Italian narrative, printed by Father Forbes- 
Leith in the first edition of his Life of John Ogilvie, 
it is stated that he went to fravel on the Continent, 

58 



The Boyhood of John Ogilvie 

and whilst there, having entered into controversy 
with some Catholic priests, proceeded to study the 
Scriptures, with the result that he was converted to 
the Faith. But the Italian narrative is in several 
respects untrustworthy. John Ogilvie cannot have 
been more than thirteen years old when he carne to 
Douai, and intelligent though he undoubtedly was, 
it is difficult to imagine him at that tender age the 
skilled controversialist that the Italian biographer 
would have us believe him. Another account says 
that he went abroad in order to preserve his faith, 
and this would seem to corroborate the first suggestion. 
We can, however, but conjecture; all that is defi 
nitely known is that in 1593 he arrived at the Scots 
college at Douai, where he was entered in the college 
records as having been " brought up a Calvinist." 
There he remained for three years, until, in 1596, 
owing to the unsettled state of affairs in France, where 
several cities were still holding out against the 
Huguenot Henry of Navarre, the Rector of the 
college migrated with his little flock to Louvain. 
There the Jesuit, Cornelius a Lapide, was lecturing 
on the Holy Scriptures; the task of catechizing and 
instructing the boys of the Scots college was en 
trusted to the famous commentator, who wrote in 
after years of his joy and pride in having had the 
future martyr among his pupils. 

But the difficulties of the Rector were not at an 
end. Although the number of his pupils was steadily 
increasing, the funds for the upkeep of the college 
were as steadily diminishing, and he was at last 
obliged to distribute some of his boys among the 
other colleges on the Continent. As a result of this 

59 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

proceeding, John Ogilvie found himself in 1598 at 
the Benedictine monastery at Ratisbon, where, 
however, his stay was very short, for within a few 
months time he had won one of the bursaries founded 
by Pope Gregory XIII. for the education of foreign 
students, and had gone to the Jesuit college at 
Olmiitz. By this time his vocation had taken shape, 
and he had resolved to devote his life to the service 
of God in the ranks of the great army founded by 
Ignatius of Loyola. 

With this end in view he offered himself, together 
with several of his young companions, to Father 
Ferdinand Alberi, Provincial of the Jesuits in Austria. 
As, however, a pestilence was raging in Briinn, 
where the novitiate was situated, it was suggested to 
the would-be postulants that they should defer their 
entry until the epidemic had abated. All were content 
to wait but John Ogilvie, who, following the Pro 
vincial to Vienna, obtained leave to brave the risk 
of infection and enter at once. On the Christmas 
Eve of 1599 he was on his way to Briinn. The new 
life and the new century were to begin together. 

In Briinn, the capital of Moravia, most of the 
people had embraced the Lutheran doctrines. They 
had, however, been won back to the Faith of their 
fathers by the preaching of the famous Jesuit, Peter 
Canisius, known amongst Catholics as the Apostle 
of Germany. The Jesuits had founded there a 
college for the boys of the country, and later a 
novitiate. One of the first novices of Briinn had 
been Blessed Edmund Campion, and the house was 
still fragrant with memories of the gallant young 
Englishman who had gone forth so joyfully to meet 

60 



The Boyhood of John Ogilme 

a martyr s death. The cell which he had occupied 
would certainly have been pointed out to the new 
comer and the story told to him of how one of the 
Fathers, who was reported to have communications 
with the unseen world, had written over the door 
on the eve of Campion s departure for England the 
words: " Beatus Edmundus Campianus, Martyr." 
The spot in the garden, too, would surely have been 
pointed out to him where on the same day Our Lady 
was said to have appeared to the young priest in a 
vision, assuring him that his desire had been granted, 
and that he would shortly shed his blood for Christ. 

For ten years John Ogilvie remained at Briinn, 
undergoing that strong formation which the Society 
of Jesus gives to its members. Though few records 
remain of his life at this time, his occupations can 
easily be conjectured. In 1601 he went to Gratz 
to study philosophy, teaching at the same time an 
elementary class in the school, and here he made 
his first vows on St. Stephen s Day in the same year. 
From Gratz he went to Neuhaus, and from Neuhaus to 
Vienna, whence, after six years of teaching, he returned 
to Olmutz, there to begin his course of theology. 

Those were stirring times in the Society of Jesus. 
The year 1605 witnessed the beatification of St. 
Aloysius Gonzaga, the saintly young scholastic 
who had renounced a splendid career as the eldest 
son of one of Italy s most princely houses to become 
a humble Jesuit novice. Four years later it was 
the great Founder of the Order, St. Ignatius Loyola, 
who was raised to the Altar, while from almost every 
quarter of the world came news of the heroic life and 
still more heroic death of countless Jesuit martyrs. 

61 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

In the heart of John Ogilvie during all these 
years one thought had been paramount the desire 
to do for his country what Campion and Southwell 
had done for theirs, to live a life of hardship and face 
a martyr s death in the hope of winning a few souls 
back to the Faith. Harder even than the English 
Mission and that was hard enough, with its attendant 
dangers was the Scottish Mission for which he 
longed. But the account of the difficulties, heard 
from those who, more fortunate than he, had been 
called to labour in that beloved country, only served 
to augment John Ogilvie s desire. In the summer 
of 1611 he was suddenly ordered to Prague to join 
Father Elphinstone, who was on his way to Scotland, 
but some change of plan seems to have been made; 
the moment had not yet come. For two years longer 
he was to wait, until at Paris, in the autumn of 
1613, he was ordained priest. A few weeks later 
he was named, together with Father Moffat, for the 
Mission in Scotland, and ordered to set out at once. 
He was just thirty years old. 



CHAPTER II: On the Mission 

THE Catholics in Scotland were in a pitiable 
condition. The animosity of the Kirk against 
those who still held to the Faith of their 
fathers was now organized into a steady and 
systematic persecution. " The permission even of 
a single case of Catholic worship, however secret," 
says a Scottish historian, " the attendance of a 
solitary individual at a single Mass in the remotest 
district of the land, at the dread hour of night, in 
the most secluded chamber, and where none could 
come but such as knelt before the altar for conscience 
sake only and in all sincerity of soul: such worship 
and its permission for an hour was considered an 
open encouragement of Antichrist and idolatry. To 
extinguish the Mass for ever, to compel its supporters 
to embrace what the Kirk considered to be the 
purity of Presbyterian truth, and this under the 
penalties of life and limb, or. in its mildest form, of 
treason, banishment, and forfeiture, was considered 
not merely praiseworthy, but a point of high re 
ligious duty; and the whole apparatus of the Kirk, 
the whole inquisitorial machinery of detection and 
persecution, was brought to bear upon the accom 
plishment of these great ends." 1 

What the " purity of Presbyterian truth " was ex 
pected to accomplish by those who had brought about 
the Reformation was the raising of the moral tone 

i Fraser Tytler, " History of Scotland." 
63 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

throughout the country. Whether it succeeded or 
not can be judged from the reports of the Kirk 
itself. In 1597, nearly forty years after the estab 
lishment of Presbyterianism as the State religion, 
a period during which the leaven had had time to 
work, the General Assembly came to the conclusion 
that " the common corruption of all estates within 
this land " was unpleasantJy obvious. After enu 
merating a list of the prevalent vices of the day in 
language which the historian Hill Burton describes 
as " more descriptive than the decorous habits of 
modern literature would sanction," the document 
ends with the trenchant observation: "Lying is a 
rife and common sin." 

The clergy of the Reformation," observes Andrew 
Lang, " far unlike the old Churchmen, set admirable 
examples of private conduct." 1 Yet we find not 
infrequently in the records of the Kirk itself, as well 
as in contemporary documents, instances of the 
ministers being cited for the very offences so often 
brought against the Catholic clergy and worse. 

" John Kello, minister of Spott, in Haddington- 
shire," says Robert Chambers in his " Domestic 
Annals of Scotland," " was executed in Edinburgh 
for the murder of his wife. The confession of this 
wretched man shows that he was tempted to the 
horrible act by a desire to marry more advantageously, 

1 Under Morton (1575), says the same author, not very con 
sistently, " the Kirk was being reduced to the same condition as the 
Church before the Reformation. Ignorance, profligacy, secular 
robbery, under a thin disguise of ecclesiastical revenues, were all 
returning. Ministers sold their livings. The Bishops had none of 
the sacerdotal and mystic character which attaches to them in the 
Catholic faith " (" History of Scotland," ii. 253). 

64 



On the Mission 

his circumstances being somewhat straitened. He 
deliberated on the design for forty days; tried poison, 
which failed; then accomplished it by strangulation." 
According to a contemporary recital, 1 "he stranglit 
her in her awn chamber, and therafter closit the 
ordinar door that was within the house for his awn 
passage, and sae finely seemit to colour that purpose 
after he had done it, that immediately he passed 
to the Kirk, and in the presence of the people made 
sermon as if he had done nae sic thing." 

" Nothing is more remarkable in the history of this 
period," says the same author, " than the coincidence 
of wicked or equivocal actions and pious professions 
in the same person. Adam Bothwell, Bishop of 
Orkney, who had joined the Reformers, and in the 
basest manner taken part against Queen Mary, 
who was in constant trouble with the General 
Assembly on account of his shortcomings, writes 
letters full of expressions of Christian piety and 
resignation. Sir John Bellenden, justice-clerk, who 
had a share in the murder of Signer David, and who, on 
receiving a gift of Hamilton of Both well haugh s estate 
of Woodhouselee from the Regent Moray, turned 
Hamilton s wife out of doors, so as to cause her to 
run mad this vile man, in his will, speaks of my 
saul, wha sail baith meet my Master with joy and 
comfort, to hear that comfortable voice saying, 
Come unto Me, thou, as one of My elect. " 2 

The bitter quarrel between the Kirk and the 
Bishops, which had seemed to promise a breathing 
space for the Catholics, had only served to augment 

1 " Historic of King James the Sext." 

2 " Domestic Annals of Scotland." 

65 E 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

their misery; for while the Presbyterians persecuted 
them from hatred of their Faith, the Episcopalian 
party, afraid of the taunt not infrequently brought 
against them of a leaning towards Popery, persecuted 
them to prove the orthodoxy of their Protestantism. 
Every house in every parish was visited by the 
ministers, and everyone without exception ordered 
to assist at the Presbyterian services. Note was 
taken of every absentee; recalcitrants were visited 
a second time, and warned that if they did not mend 
their ways excommunication would be the result. 
This was no laughing matter, for it amounted, 
practically, to boycotting, involving civil penalties 
of the most drastic kind. No one might remain in 
the service of a man or woman under the ban without 
incurring excommunication themselves. No one 
might speak to, buy from, or sell to them; no one 
was allowed to attend them in sickness or bury them 
when dead. Their children could be torn from 
them and brought up to hate and despise the religion 
of their fathers. In the sight of the law they had 
no rights; they were pariahs and outcasts on the 
face of the earth. It is not surprising that all but the 
most valiant of the Catholics gave up their Faith 
rather than face such a prospect. " The country," 
says Andrew Lang, " was drilled into almost uniform 
conformity and systematic hypocrisy." 1 All Catho 
lics had to choose between loss of lands and goods 
and native country, or loss of conscience and honour. 
The only alternative open to a Catholic was to 

1 " One thing was obvious to the preachers admit toleration, 
and, as Hamilton said, then are we all gone. The country would 
veer round to the ancient faith " (A. Lang, " History of Scotland "). 

66 



On the Mission 

seek liberty of worship in a foreign land, but even 
this was soon denied them. A law was passed 
obliging every person leaving the country to bind 
himself by security not to practise the Catholic 
religion abroad. Another, enacted a little later, 
decreed that any Scottish subject hearing Mass in a 
foreign country would forfeit any property he might 
hold at home. 

Not even the privacy of family life was secure from 
intrusion. Many of the wealthier and nobler families 
who had given outward adhesion to the new form 
of worship, but were suspected of adhering in heart 
to their own religion, were obliged to support in their 
own houses, and at their own expense, a " wise 
pastor, armed with powers of exhortation, inquisi 
tion, and rebuke." This " wise pastor " followed his 
unhappy hosts like a shadow wherever they went, 
his obtrusive and unwelcome nose being thrust 
into every family matter, however intimate, and his 
obnoxious doctrines being forced upon them at 
every hour of the day. Even the proud Huntly 
was forced to submit to this infliction. The followers 
of John Knox could boast of having reduced perse 
cution to a fine art; the very pettiness of its details 
made it the harder to bear. " There are tortures 
attributed to the Inquisition," says the historian Hill 
Burton, " which some men would rather endure than 
this scheme." 

During his long sojourn on the Continent John 
Ogilvie had followed closely the progress of events 
in Scotland. Reports from missionary priests were 
constantly arriving at the different colleges abroad, 
supplemented by the accounts of the missionaries 

67 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

themselves as they passed to and fro on their various 
journeys. There were the exiles, too, who would 
have much to say of the intolerable conditions of the 
life from which they had fled. The disadvantages 
under which a priest " on the Mission " in Scotland 
had to labour were well known to all. An efficient 
disguise was the first necessity, for spies were on 
the watch in all the Continental towns and seaports, 
ready to apprise their masters in England and 
Scotland of every movement of a priest. 

In the autumn of 1613 a young soldier, known to all 
inquirers as Captain Watson, landed at the port of 
Leith in company with two other gentlemen. The 
soldier was Father Ogilvie, and his companions, 
Father Moffat and Father Campbell, were respec 
tively a brother Jesuit and a Capuchin friar. The 
three priests at once separated, Father Ogilvie going 
north, Father Campbell to Edinburgh, and Father 
Moffat to St. Andrews, in which city he was seized 
just one year later and thrown into prison on the 
charge of being a " Mass priest." 

Father Ogilvie would have found many changes 
in his old home since his departure twenty years ago. 
The three little sisters of the old days were grown 
up and married. One was now Countess of Buchan, 
another Lady Forbes of Pitsligo, and the third Lady 
Grant. His father and mother were still alive; they 
were destined to survive their martyred son. 

One can but wonder what reception they gave 
him, and whether pride or fear was uppermost 
in their hearts. Was it with a wistful clinging to the 
old Faith, but half renounced for safety s sake, that 
they welcomed the son who had come back to them as 

68 



On the Mission 

its champion, or did they look coldly upon his enter 
prise as the act of a madman, calculated to put the 
whole family in jeopardy ? History remains silent; 
all that we know is that a few weeks later Father 
Ogilvie was at Strathbogie Castle, the seat of the 
Earl of Huntly, and that there he spent Christmas. 
It was the most Catholic part of the country, and 
there would be work for him to do. It is notable 
that on his death-bed, twenty years later, Huntly 
was to remember that Christmas Communion. 

His ministrations at Strathbogie at an end, 
Father Ogilvie proceeded to Edinburgh; for the 
Lowlands and not the Highlands were to be the 
scene of his future labours, and Edinburgh his head 
quarters. 

In Perthshire, halfway between the two centres, 
is a lonely well which still bears the name of " Father 
Ogilvie s Well." Tradition says that a priest of 
that name once took refuge there during the times of 
persecution. If this were, as seems probable, our 
Father Ogilvie, it is likely that the incident happened 
on this journey, and that the sharp eyes of the 
Government spies had already pierced the disguise 
of Captain Watson. 

Edinburgh had its advantages as a hiding-place. 
The largest city in Scotland and fairly central for 
work in the Lowlands, it possessed a little colony 
of staunch Catholics who were always ready to help 
and harbour the missionary priests. In the stream 
of visitors who were constantly passing through its 
streets, one more stranger would easily pass un 
noticed. 

Father Ogilvie took up his abode in the house of 



A Scottish K night- Rr rant 

one William Sinclair, an advocate. Here he found 
Father Moffat, and here the two priests remained 
during the first months of 1614. Easter fell early 
that year, on the 30th of March, and towards the 
end of Lent Father Ogilvie crossed via London to 
Paris, where he spent the last days of Holy Week 
and Eastertide. Whatever may have been the cause 
of this journey, and it was evidently a matter of 
business, Father Gordon, S.J., uncle of the Earl of 
Huntly and Father Ogilvie s superior, seems to have 
considered it an unwise proceeding, and Father 
Ogilvie returned at once to London. He was still 
" Captain Watson," and in this disguise made 
the acquaintance of a certain Sir James Kneilland 
of Monkland, a needy Scottish gentleman, who, 
like so many others of his countrymen, had followed 
James I. to England in the hope of bettering his 
fortunes. In June the soldier and the knight 
travelled northwards in company, thus cementing 
a friendship which seems to have become fairly 
intimate, for later in the same year Kneilland was 
denounced as a Catholic and a penitent of the 
priest s. Part of the long journey northwards was 
spent by Father Ogilvie in the perusal of a little 
book which had been given to him in London, and 
which contained an account of the trial and imprison 
ment of Father Garnett, the English Jesuit, accused 
of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot. The reading 
of the little narrative was turned to good account by 
Father Ogilvie later on, when he himself came to 
stand his trial. 

Using Sinclair s house as headquarters, the mis 
sionary now proceeded to travel about the Lowlands, 

70 



On the Mission 

reconciling apostates to the Church, instructing 
converts, and working untiringly for the salvation 
of souls. Near Sinclair s house there lived a Catholic 
named Cruickshank, who had stables in the Canongate. 
It was natural enough that a soldier should frequent 
these stables, more especially as he was employed 
in travelling about the country buying likely horses 
for his friend. Thus it was that Father Ogilvie could 
say Mass in peace in the stables, his mission as horse- 
dealer covering the greater mission of a seeker of 
souls. 

In Glasgow there was also a small colony of 
Catholics, and through one of these, a certain Robert 
Heygait, who had met Father Ogilvie in Edinburgh, 
the presence of the priest was made known in the 
western city. Unlike most of the other missionaries, 
who observed the greatest secrecy as to their move 
ments, Father Ogilvie made no attempt to hide 
himself, and, trusting to boldness as his best disguise, 
went about his business quite openly. While in 
Glasgow he lodged at a public inn, spending his 
days, as any other soldier might be supposed to do, 
in walking about with his friends. Who was to kno^ 
that the friend was being instructed the while, or 
that during the short visits paid by Captain Watson 
to certain of the townspeople appointments were 
being made for longer visits under the cover of night ? 
Long excursions into the country in quest of prom 
ising horses for his friend Mr. Cruickshank aroused 
no suspicions, and for a time all went well. Mass 
was said every morning at the house of Marion 
Walker, a zealous Catholic, who kept open house 
for her co-religionists, full of joy at the chance of 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

receiving once more the Sacraments of their Church. 
Marion Walker was one of the first to be seized after 
Father Ogilvie himself, and died, after great hard 
ships, a confessor of the Faith, in the prison at 
Dumbarton Castle. 

During the time of Father Ogilvie s stay in Glasgow, 
Robert Heygait had been busying himself bringing 
faint-hearted and timid Catholics to the priest; 
his zeal, indeed, was greater than his prudence, 
and led ultimately to the capture of all. A man 
named Boyd, of good family and of some standing in 
the city, grew suspicious and began to frequent 
Heygait s shop, pretending that he was interested 
in the Catholic Faith, and wished to be received into 
the Church. The unsuspicious Heygait welcomed 
the stranger with open arms, telling him that there 
happened at that, very moment to be a priest in the 
city to whom he could go for instruction. This was 
just what Boyd wanted. He went with Heygait 
to see Father Ogilvie, and kept up the pretence 
of being a zealous neophyte until he had ferreted 
out the fact that Captain Watson s horse-dealing 
expeditions covered visits to all the Catholic strong 
holds in the neighbourhood, and had discovered 
the names of all the people who frequented Marion 
Walker s house for Mass. Then, and then only, 
did he reveal himself as the traitor he was by de 
nouncing to their enemies the men who had trusted 
him, for the sake of his soul s welfare, with a secret 
that might cost them their lives. It was a common 
enough tale in seventeenth-century Scotland. 

To John Spottiswoode, Protestant Archbishop of 
Glasgow, Boyd s information was as welcome as rain 

72 



On the Mission 

in summer. He and his Episcopalian brethren were in 
bad odour with the Kirk, which persisted in associating 
the name of Bishop with everything that savoured 
of " Popery," averring that Episcopalianism was 
nothing but " Satan divided against himself." Here 
was a chance to vindicate himself completely from 
such an aspersion, and to prove that a Bishop could 
be as enthusiastic as any member of the Kirk when 
it was a question of suppressing a Papist. The 
traitor and the Archbishop put their heads together, 
and had soon evolved a plan. In a few days time 
the election of a baillie or city magistrate was to take 
place in Glasgow; during the excitement with which 
such a proceeding was usually attended the capture 
of the priest could be easily effected. The arrange 
ments concluded, the two men parted Boyd to keep 
up his farce of going to Father Ogilvie for instruction, 
and the Archbishop to give orders for the arrest. 



73 



CHAPTER III: The Arrest 

SINCE Archbishop Spottiswoode is one of the 
chief characters in the drama which ended 
in the martyrdom of Father Ogilvie, it may 
be interesting to see what manner of man he was 
and how he had come to hold his present position. 

Born in 1565, and the son of one who is described as 
" a pillar of the Reformation," he became at the age 
of twenty-one minister of the parish of Calder in 
Midlothian. We hear of him next in the retinue of 
the King. When, in order to limit the power of the 
Kirk, James, by a coup d etat, forced upon it the 
Episcopalian system, and several of the ministers, 
who a few weeks before had been denouncing Bishops 
as " limbs of the devil," promptly accepted a see 
with its accompanying emoluments, Spottiswoode 
was among their number. The canny monarch, it 
is true, had gilded the pill of Episcopacy, thus sud 
denly thrust upon the reluctant Assembly, by 
pointing out the urgent necessity of ferreting out 
and punishing Jesuits and Papists, in which delightful 
occupation, he assured them, they would find the 
Bishops of the greatest assistance. But though 
forced to accept the Bishops, the Kirk never ceased 
to dislike them, looking upon them as turncoats 
and apostates, whose sudden conversion had been 
brought about by the desire to enjoy big revenues. 
" Ambitious of preferment," says Cunningham, 
" Spottiswoode early devoted himself to the King 

74 



The Arrest 

and the Episcopalian party, and got the reward of 
his services by being made Archbishop of Glasgow, 
and later of St. Andrews. It cannot be denied 
that he was willing to sacrifice his country s Faith 
to his own ambition." When in 1637 the Assembly 
declared war against " Popery and Prelacy," and 
proceeded to excommunicate the Bishops, Spottis- 
woode was proved guilty of " carding and dicing 
during the time of Divine service; of tippling in 
taverns till midnight," together with unnameable 
crimes which go to make a blacker indictment than 
any brought against the pre-Reformation Bishops 
by the bitterest of their enemies. 

That the Kirk was given to unlimited abuse of 
those who opposed its power, no one who has read the 
documents of the period can deny, nor is it fair to 
judge a man solely on the evidence of his enemies. 
The Episcopalians allude to Spottiswoode as a 
" pious and wise man, grave, sage, and peaceable." 
A certain George Martine, who wrote an account of the 
See of St. Andrews, speaks of his " holy simplicitie 
and primitive disposition," a testimony which is a 
little leavened by Bishop Burnet s description of him 
as " a mild and prudent man, of no great decency in his 
course of life." Cunningham allows that " he did not 
devote Sunday to gloom, but loved a game at cards or 
at dice," and that he could be " joyous over a glass 
of wine." 

From these conflicting accounts it may be gathered 
that Spottiswoode was a shrewd, intelligent man, 
whose religious convictions came second to his 
ambition, and whose private life gave cause for 
scandal. Genial and kindly when it suited him to 

75 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

be so, he could, as we shall see, be cruel and vindictive 
when crossed. But here we are chiefly concerned 
with his veracity as an historian, for besides his 
" History of the Church in Scotland " and several 
other works, he wrote what he describes as a " True 
Relation of the Proceedings against John Ogilvie, 
a Jesuit." 

Now, the title " a True Relation " implies the fact 
that there were other accounts of the proceedings 
going about, as there undoubtedly were, which 
Spottiswoode wished to contradict, since in them 
he played but a poor part. If he had known, which 
he did not, that Father Ogilvie had written while in 
prison the whole history of his arrest and imprison 
ment, completed by several eye-witnesses of his 
execution, and testified to under oath, he would perhaps 
have been more careful about some of the state 
ments which he describes as true. But Father 
Ogilvie s MS. was conveyed secretly out of the country 
lest it should fall into the hands of his enemies, and 
has remained in the archives of the Society of Jesus 
ever since. The trial and the execution had created 
a strong impression in favour of the martyr, and this 
it behoved the Archbishop, if possible, to destroy. 
His method of procedure can be seen at a glance from 
a single instance in his " History of the Church of 
Scotland." 

In the Parliament of August, 1560, when the 
Confession of Faith was passed and the old religion 
swept away, Spottiswoode declares that the Catholic 
Bishops remained silent. Now, this implies, as 
Spottiswoode undoubtedly meant it to imply, that 
the Catholic Bishops were pitiful cravens who cared 



The Arrest 

but little for their religion. As a matter of fact, 
only six Catholic Bishops were present at the Parlia 
ment, which many people looked upon as illegal. 
Of these six, two had never been consecrated, and 
three protested. This fact is attested by State docu 
ments which are still extant, but of which Spottis- 
woode probably knew nothing. 1 Yet men were still 
alive, when he wrote, who had been present at the 
Parliament, and it seems impossible to conceive that 
the misstatement was a mere slip of the pen. The 
Parliament of August, 1560, is the pivot on which 
the history of the Reformation in Scotland turns, and 
on such an important event as this the historian 
had every facility for making sure of his facts. 

The events of that fateful 14th of October, which 
saw the arrest of Father Ogilvie, have come down to 
us in the martyr s own words. Towards the end of 
his long imprisonment, through the instrumentality of 
the Archbishop s wife, who showed him some little 
kindness, he was allowed the use of pens and paper. 
He had to use them in secret, he tells us, taking 
advantage of the moments when the vigilance of his 
gaoler was somewhat relaxed, but he succeeded in 
writing in Latin a lull account of his arrest and 
imprisonment. Six days before his trial he delivered 
the MS., together with two letters, to Mr. Mayne, 
a Catholic, who had been seized ofi the same day 
as himself, and who had been sentenced to banish 
ment for life. Mayne concealed the paper, which 

i State Papers (Scotland), Eliz., vol. v., No. 10. Maitland to 
Cecil, August 18th. " The Parliament swallowed the whole Confes 
sion, only some five laymen and Ihree Bishops dissenting " (Andrew 
Lang, " History of Scotland," ii.). 

77 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

was afterwards completed by those who had been 
eye-witnesses of the martyr s trial and execution, 
and deposited it in the hands of the Rector of the 
Jesuit college at Bordeaux. It was printed at 
Douai in July, 1615, and later by the Maitland Club 
in the volume of their publications entitled " Illus 
trations of the Reigns of Queen Mary and James VI." 
An English translation by Father Kar slake, S.J., 
has been published in Glasgow. 

On the morning of his arrest Father Ogilvie said 
Mass at Marion Walker s house. It was destined to 
be his last on earth. " I was betrayed," he says, 
" by one of those I was to have reconciled with the 
Church. The traitor was of a noble family . . . 
and had been recommended to me as a Catholic 
and as one who had been waiting for a long time for 
some opportunity of being reconciled." 

We gather from the narrative that Father Ogilvie 
had only returned that morning to Glasgow, after 
one of his many absences. He had made an appoint 
ment with Boyd, who was to go to him for in 
struction in the afternoon. About four o clock he 
went out for a walk in the streets of the city with 
a friend, when the traitor, evidently on the watch, 
gave the signal agreed upon, and one of the retainers 
of the Archbishop, accosting the priest, ordered him 
to go at once to " His Lordship." Father Ogilvie, 
imagining that by " His Lordship " was meant the 
Sheriff, whom he knew to be the grandson of the 
would-be convert, turned back at once, but his friend, 
loth to let him out of sight, insisted that he should go 
with him to his house. This proposal was vehemently 
opposed by the Archbishop s man, and a heated 

78 



The Arrest 

argument ensued. " Whilst, however, I am amicably 
arranging the dispute between the two," says Father 
Ogilvie in the narrative, " a crowd of town officers 
and citizens collect about us. They seize rny sword 
and begin pushing and pulling me about. I ask 
an explanation of their conduct, inquire what harm 
I am doing, and whether they are in their right 
senses. I told them that it was the other two who 
were quarrelling, and that I had nothing whatever 
to do with it. No need for a long story. I was 
lifted up from the ground by the united rush of the 
c^owd, and almost borne away on their shoulders 
to the magistrate s house. They snatched away my 
cloak, but I said that I would not stir a step until 
it was given back to me. Then someone offered 
me his, but I said I wanted my own, and at last I 
got it away from them. I protested against the 
outrageous behaviour of the angry mob, and prom 
ised them that I should let everyone know how 
they had treated a visitor to their city, who was 
doing no harm to anyone, and that without any 
lawful warrant or accusation brought against me. 
In the meantime the Archbishop, who was in another 
part of the city, was informed that the men he had 
sent to apprehend me had been killed, that a general 
massacre was taking place, and that the city was in 
arms." This alarming message seems to have been 
carefully prepared beforehand, that the prelate 
might have a plausible reason for assembling the 
barons and apprehending the priest. 

In 1609 the King had instituted two Courts of 
High Commission, one in each archdiocese, each 
Court consisting of the Archbishop himself together 

79 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

with his suffragan Bishops and a certain number 
of the nobility. They could call before them anyone 
whom they considered to be scandalous in life or 
erroneous in opinions, and could impose whatever 
fines they chose or imprison for any length of time. 
They could excommunicate any subject of the realm 
and see to it that the penalties of excommunication 
were carried out. They were bound by no law 
but their own discretion; they were subject to no 
appeal, and their sentence was final. Thus it had 
come about that the Archbishop had almost un 
limited power in Glasgow in matters civic as well 
as religious " a power," says Cunningham, " which 
associated with the name of Bishop everything that 
was odious in despotism." 

" The Bishop," continues the narrative, " as 
sembled the barons, who happened to be in the city, 
and they came in a body to the street. He saw 
that all was quiet there, and asked where I was. 
They replied that I was in the house of the 
magistrate who had been elected that day, and 
thither he hasted with all his company. I was 
sitting between the table and the wall; he called me 
out and struck me across the face. You are an 
over-insolent fellow to say your Masses in a Re 
formed city, he said." 

Spottiswoode, in his account of the proceedings, 
carefully omits the mention of this dastardly blow, 
but his contemporary, Calderwood, had no reason 
to be so reticent. " The Bishop buffeted him," he 
frankly states. 

" Your action is rather that of the executioner 
than of the Bishop," was Father Ogilvie s quiet reply; 

80 



The Arrest 

but Spottiswoode had given the lead, and those 
under him took the cue from their master. " They 
showered blows upon me from every side," continues 
the narrative, " plucked the hair from my beard, 
and tore my face with their nails, until Count 
Fleming restrained them by his authority and by 
main force. Then, while I was still half stunned 
from the effect of so many blows upon the head, orders 
were given that I should be stripped. Some men 
there began immediately to obey the command, 
untying the strings and undoing the buttons of my 
clothes, until, when they were on the point of re 
moving my shirt, very shame restored my senses, 
and I cried out to know what such wanton insolence 
was for." 

It was so late by this time that it was judged well 
to remove Father Ogilvie to the prison, but even there 
he had no peace. 

They threatened that they would soon proceed 
to extremities," he says, " but I laughed at their 
threats, their angry faces, and their words. They 
threatened me with the boots : I told them to 
bring them, but they replied that they were too 
kind to use them. But lying is not kindness, I 
said; why promise what you do not perform ? The 
keeper of the gaol then remarked that I was a queer 
kind of fellow, for prisoners, as a rule, did not beg 
to be punished, but desired to be let off. That is 
all right for those who are ashamed of their actions, 
or dread their punishment, I replied, c but I glory 
in my cause and triumph in its penalty. 

4 Take care, said he, what you are doing, and 
remember to whom you are speaking. 

81 F 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

4 I know all about that, replied Father Ogilvie; 
* be sure to shut up your prison properly, and go to 
sleep until to-morrow. 

But for the prisoner himself there was little sleep; 
he was tormented with anxiety lest those to whom 
he had ministered should suffer on his account. 

His fears were not without cause. The traitor, 
having made sure of his first victim, had led a band 
of searchers to the houses of the Catholics whose 
names he had succeeded in discovering. At the inn 
where Father Ogilvie had lodged they found his 
luggage, containing a breviary, some Papal decrees 
concerning the conditions under which holders of 
ecclesiastical property might be reconciled to the 
Church, relics of St. Ignatius, St. Margaret, and 
St. Catherine, an altar-stone, chalice, and vestments, 
together with other " rags of Popery." These 
articles, though highly compromising to the priest 
himself, put no one else in danger; it was far other 
wise with his private papers, carefully deposited 
in what he had believed to be a safe hiding-place, 
but which was betrayed to the authorities by " a 
certain Frenchman." " They were in a very safe 
place," says the narrative, " had men only been 
honourable and silent." 

The discovery of two of these papers might prove 
disastrous to his fellow-Catholics, one of them being 
a list of Catholic houses where travelling priests 
might safely apply for shelter, while the other, 
drawn up by Father Anderson, a Jesuit priest who 
had left Scotland but a short time before, gave a full 
account of all the property belonging to the Fathers 
in the country, with detailed information as to where 

82 



The Arrest 

it was to be found. This property seems to have 
consisted of altar-stones, chalices, and other things 
needful for the Divine service, which had been left 
in different parts of Scotland for the convenience of 
travelling priests. 

To Father Ogilvie the loss of his own life mattered 
little; he had counted the cost before setting out 
on his hazardous enterprise. But the thought that 
the lives and property of many good Catholics, whose 
only crime was that of having harboured and suc 
coured their priests, should be in danger on his 
account was a cause of sore trouble to him. 

The first to be seized were Heygait and Marion 
Walker, who, with fourteen others, were " all 
empreasonit in the Castell of Dumbarton, ther to 
remayne upon thair awin expenses and therefter 
relaxit and confynit for a pecuniall soume for con 
travening the Act of Parliament, and fand cautionn 
under great soumes of money not to commit the like 
fault or cryme again." 

As it was into Spottiswoode s pocket, presumably, 
that both the " pecuniall soume " as well as " the 
great soumes of money " found their way, his interest 
in Papist-hunting is easily explained. On the 7th 
of December this little band of Catholics, who were 
tried apart from Father Ogilvie, were found guilty and 
condemned to death. The sentence, however, was 
not carried out, the great " soumes of money " and 
a public humiliation being considered on the whole 
more advantageous to the common weal. Marion 
Walker died in prison of the hardships there endured; 
the others, the fines having been duly paid, were 
released. But though the law was satisfied, the 

83 



A Scottish K nig kt-Rr rant 

Kirk was not, as the following extracts from the 
book of the Kirk Session of Glasgow bear witness : 

" On the 25th of January, 1615, James Forret, 
Archibald Scheillts, and John Wallace (went to) the 
presbytery humbly confessing their heinous offence 
in being present with John Ogilvie, priest, at idol 
service, and hearing Mass to the great dishonour of the 
Kirk. . . . (They) ofi ered full satisfaction. Also 
James Stewart, Archibald Muir, Andrew Sumner gave 
in their supplication, humbly confessing their offence 
in receiving and entertaining the foresaid priest . . . 
protesting to embrace the (religion) presently pro 
fessed in this kingdom of Scotland for ever . . . and 
with their blood will defend it to their life s end." 
One can imagine the feelings with which these un 
fortunate creatures, goaded by the fear of death, or 
excommunication with all its horrors, uttered the 
words in which they were forced to denounce their 
religion as idolatrous, and to profess their belief in 
doctrines which denied all that they held most dear. 

On the 1st of February Sir James Kneilland was 
summoned before the presbytery, and admitted that 
he had received the priest twice, " thinking that he 
was a soldier, as he came with Captain Donaldson 
and many other soldiers." Kneilland declared that 
he was a " good Protestant," and had communicated 
according to the rite of the Reformed Church in 
England, while his wife had done the same in 
Glasgow. The truth of Sir James s statement seems 
to have been doubted, for he was ordered to procure 
a testimony from the minister of the church in 
England at which he said he had communicated, 
and produce it at a later meeting of the presbytery. 



The Arrest 

He does not seem to have been further molested, 
so must have succeeded in convincing the Kirk that 
he was a good Protestant. 

On the 8th of March Sir Archibald Muir was 
summoned before the presbytery and charged with 
the crime of having entertained Father Ogilvie at his 
house. He was ordered to attend the sermons 
regularly, while the ministers debated as to the 
penance they would require of him. 

On the 10th of April, a month after the martyrdom 
of Father Ogilvie, all his companions were summoned 
before the presbytery. The heroic death of the 
priest had produced a strong impression in his 
favour, which both Spottiswoode and the Kirk 
were doing their best to counteract. The following 
sentence was therefore pronounced on the little 
group of Catholics who had been associated with 
him in Glasgow: " That on Sunday " they should stand 
" at the High Kirk door from the first ringing of the 
bell to (end) of the sermon in linen clothes and bare 
headed, and there crave the prayers of the people 
as they enter, and this being done, the first Sabbath 
in the forenoon, ye shall go to the New Kirk in the 
afternoon in the manner aforesaid. Next that ye 
enter to the public place of penance within the High 
Kirk on the two Sabbaths immediately following, 
all others being discharged for the time from the 
said place, and after sermon descend to the pillar 
and give token of repentance before the congregation 
for this abominable act . . . and absolution is 
deferred to the synodal assembly at Ayr on the 
10th of April." 

Heygait, like Marion Walker, was of stauncher 

85 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

stuff. He remained firm and was banished for life 
from his country. 

Of Father Ogilvie s Edinburgh friends, three were 
seized and brought to trial a few months after his 
martyrdom. They were all sentenced to death, but 
were reprieved at the place of execution, heavily 
fined, and one of them at least, the Advocate Sinclair, 
driven into exile. He gave evidence at the pre 
liminary process of Father Ogilvie s beatification, 
published by Father Forbes-Leith in his " Vie de 
Jean Ogilvie." 



86 



CHAPTER IV: The First 

Examination 

IN the morning of the 15th of October, after a 
sleepless night in prison, Father Ogilvie was 
led to the Palace of the Archbishop, where he 
found assembled a board of examiners, consisting of 
the Archbishop himself, the Bishop of Argyll, five 
barons, and the Provost of the city. " I was ill 
from the harsh usage of the previous day," he says, 
" and trembling with weakness." This was hardly 
surprising, since he had had no food for over twenty- 
four hours. 

He was straightway challenged on the subject 
of mental reservation, a long and weary argument 
ensuing, which only came to an end when the judges 
discovered, to their cost, that the prisoner was more 
than equal to them at every point. They then 
proceeded to direct questions, and asked him if he 
were of gentle birth. 

" I am," he replied, " and so were my parents 
before me." 

" Have you ever said Mass in the King s 
dominions ?" was the next question. 

"If to say Mass is a crime," he answered, " you 
cannot expect me to answer that question. It lies 
with you to produce the witnesses." 

"We have proof of it," they continued, "in the 
testimony of those who saw you." 

" If your witnesses have satisfied you on that 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

point, all right. I shall neither weaken their testi 
mony by my denial nor strengthen it by my confes 
sion until I see fit to do so." 

" Then you are a priest ?" they questioned. 
4 You said just now that you could prove that 
I had said Mass. If that is so, you are surely able 
to prove also that I am a priest." 
It was a case of check again. 
" What is your name ?" was the next inquiry. 
" Why do you ask ?" replied Father Ogilvie. " If 
you suspect me, bring forward my crime and prove 
it by witnesses. You have not deserved so well 
of me that I should oblige you with gratuitous in 
formation. What I am bound by law to say, I will 
say, but nothing more." 

; Do you acknowledge the King?" they asked. 
" James is de facto King of Scotland," was the 
reply. 

" At this question," says Father Ogilvie, " I was 
a little afraid, but the stupid fellows, not under 
standing law terms, did not know how to follow up 
the point." He knew enough of the recent pro 
ceedings in England to be aware that the authorities 
were using every pretext to try to condemn the 
priests on the ground of treason rather than religion. 
They were determined to be rid of them at any cost, 
but were resolved that they should figure as traitors 
and not as martyrs. Again and again in Father 
Ogilvie s trial we find the judges harking back to the 
subject of the Papal Supremacy, " that two-edged 
sword," as Blessed Thomas More had named it. 
Those were days of transition, when a startled world 
saw new theories advanced and new methods boldly 

88 



The First Examination 

advocated. Theologians had grown so accustomed 
to seeing the spiritual and temporal power living, so 
to speak, under the same roof, that the spectacle 
of nations cutting themselves adrift from the 
spiritual authority of the Pope was almost unin 
telligible to them. They were inclined to treat it 
as a passing phase and to advocate the use of the old 
weapons, such as decrees of deposition and ex 
communications. They did not see, time alone could 
show them, that the old state of things had passed 
for ever, and that new ways and means must be 
devised to meet the new needs and dangers. Father 
Ogilvie took one standpoint and held to it firmly 
throughout. Whenever any question of faith was 
involved, he avowed his belief and gloried in it; when 
it was a doubtful matter involving some point not 
yet defined as of faith, he refused to commit himself. 
" In replying to such questions," he would answer, t 
" I should be acknowledging you as judges in religious 
controversies, which you are not." To the Pope 
or his deputies, the sole legitimate judges in such 
matters, he told them, alone an answer was due. 

" James is de facto King of Scotland," he had 
said. 

" Swear to it," replied the judges. 

" Why should I swear ?" 

" So that all may know whether or not you have 
reasonably conspired against the King." 

" You well know," was the answer, " that to swear 
needlessly is to contravene the Divine command, 
which says : Thou shalt not take the Name of the 
Lord thy God in vain. And it seems to me that I 
should be swearing uselessly, were I to swear to 

89 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

my own evidence, since, according to the law, an 
oath in my own favour would avail nothing." 

It was a reversal of the usual proceedings for the 
prisoner to point out to the judges that the law 
prohibits such oaths, for the reason that many of the 
worst kind of criminals would be only too ready 
to perjure themselves if in so doing there were a 
chance for them of escape from punishment. 

Bring forward your witnesses," said Father 
Ogilvie, " to prove your charges against me, and if 
you cannot do so, why, then, do you persecute an 
innocent man ?" 

"We ask you in the King s name to take the 
oath." 

" Tell me first, then, what you require me to 
swear to." 

That you will answer all questions put to you 
without equivocation or mental reservation." 

1 am not bound to do so," was the reply, " but 
I will take my oath that I shall truly answer all the 
questions which I think right to answer; in all other 
cases I shall say that I do not wish to answer." 

"And what are those things that you will not 
speak to ?" they inquired. 

I shall say nothing that would tend to my own 
detriment or to the prejudice of any other innocent 
person." 

" And what are your reasons for refusing to answer 
such questions ?" 

" My reasons are two. In the first place it would 
be sinful to say anything that would compromise 
or injure an innocent person, and I shall not do so. 
Secondly, since the foundation of all laws is the law 

90 



The First Examination 

of nature, which aims not at man s destruction, but 
his preservation, I shall say nothing which might 
lead to my own injury and so to the contravention 
of that Divine law." 

Eventually Father Ogilvie took the oath on the 
express understanding that he should be free to 
refuse an answer to questions which he considered 
unjust. This done, he gave them full particulars as 
to his name, family, and birthplace. The official 
account of this part of his trial is as follows: 

: The priest being asked what his name was, he 
called himself John Ogilvie, son of Walter Ogilvie of 
Drum; and that he had been out of this country 
twenty-two years, and that he studied in the colleges 
of Olmlitz and Gratz, and remained in Olmlitz two 
years and in Gratz five years; and that he received 
the order of priesthood in Paris; and that he came 
home to Scotland before now, and remained six 
weeks or thereby. And that he came home (i.e., 
from London) about May last or thereby; and con 
fessed that the bag produced before him on the table 
w T as his own. And that he was one of the ordinary 
Jesuits. And being asked whether the Pope s 
jurisdiction extended over the King s dominions in 
spiritual matters, affirmed constantly the same, 
and would die for it." " Johannes Ogilbceus, 
Societatis Jesu," is the signature appended to the 
document. 

The examination proceeded. 

" I was again asked whether I had said Mass 
in the King s dominions, and replied that since the 
King s edicts and Acts of Parliament have made it 
a crime to say Mass, I could not answer that question. 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

In any case, I said, my judges were there to inquire 
into crime, not acts of religious worship, such as the 
celebrating of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The 
King, I told them, was supreme judge in cases of 
murder, treason, and robbery, but not of the ad 
ministration of the Sacraments. 

" 4 But, they said, the King is not a layman. 

" He is certainly not a priest nor has he received 
even minor orders. 

" They next wanted to know why I had come to 
Scotland. 

" To convert my countrymen from heresy and 
to save souls. 

" Whence have you authority to minister to the 
people, since neither the King nor the Bishops have 
given it to you ? 

" Laughingly I answered that their Bishops, like 
their King, were mere laymen, and had not a particle 
of jurisdiction to give, since Christ committed the 
sheep to the care of Peter, and whosoever wishes 
to feed those sheep must first have authority to do 
so from the Holy See, the representative of St. Peter. 
4 It is from that See, I told them, 4 that I have my 
jurisdiction, and that jurisdiction I am able to trace 
back to Our Lord Himself through an unbroken line of 
Pontiffs. 

" But it is treason to assert, as you do, that the 
Pope has any spiritual jurisdiction in the King s 
dominions. 

" He has such jurisdiction. It is an article of faith. 

" Would you dare to sign a paper to that effect ? 
" Yes, and if need be I would sign it with my 
blood. 

92 



The First Examination 

" Straightway I signed it. Then they asked: 

" Can the Pope depose a King ? 

44 He cannot depose a lawful King who is an 
obedient son of the Church. 

" But supposing that the King is a heretic ? 

" Many theologians hold that the Pope can depose 
an heretical Sovereign. 

" What do you yourself hold ? 

" When it shall be denned as an article of faith 
that the Pope can depose an heretical King I shall 
give my life-blood to defend it, and when I receive 
power to judge both Pope and King I shall tell the 
one what he may do, and the other what he deserves. 
As for what I now hold, there is no necessity for 
me to say until I am called upon to express my 
opinion by the one who is judge in these matters 
the Pope or one of his delegates. 

Questioned on the subject of the Gunpowder 
Plot, Father Ogilvie told his judges that he detested 
parricides and held them in horror. One of the 
judges argued that Jesuits taught that it was lawful 
to kill heretical Sovereigns. 

" If you want the truth of that matter," said the 
prisoner, " read the decrees of the Council of Con 
stance, and you will see that it is the heretics who 
teach and the Church that condemns such doctrines. 
Wi cliff e taught that subjects might lawfully kill 
their rulers if the latter were at fault, and that by 
sin, rulers forfeit their authority. These theses the 
Church condemned." He then declared that the 
Gunpowder Plot was the deed of a few misguided 
Catholics, and proceeded to turn the tables on his 
opponents by instancing the disgraceful attacks 

93 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

made on the King by the Presbyterians, notably 
during the riots of 1596, and again when a band of 
ministers under the Rev. Robert Bruce wrote asking 
the Marquis of Hamilton to seize the throne. These 
proceedings, now conveniently forgotten, he com 
pared with the Gunpowder Plot, brought up on 
every occasion against the Catholics. The latter, he 
pointed out, was a mad project devised by a few 
courtiers, whereas the former were open rebellions, 
led by the preachers themselves. 

" Against the Jesuits," he concluded, " you can 
bring forth naught but lying suspicions, worthy 
fruit of the hatred you bear us, but these riots I speak 
of were facts of which eye-witnesses still remain, 
in the person of the King and others." 

From the Gunpowder Plot it was an easy step to 
Father Garnett and his alleged complicity therein, 
and Father Ogilvie was questioned about the 
martyred Provincial. 

" c He was innocent, I said, 4 and not for the whole 
world should he have revealed anything heard under 
the seal of the Confessional. 

" If anyone should confess to me," declared the 
Archbishop, " anything against the life of the King, 
I should denounce him, even though I had heard it 
under the seal of the Confessional." 

44 One would be unwise, then, to choose you as his 
confessor," replied the priest. 

They then declared that the Pope had canonized 
Father Garnett. 

" Who says that ?" 

44 Why, at Rome he is painted amongst the martyrs 
of your Society." 

94 



The First Examination 

" It is a poor argument that is taken from painters 
and poets, and one which proves nothing. I myself 
do hold him a martyr if he died for the secrecy of the 
Confessional, and, moreover, if the Pope has de 
clared him a martyr I would willingly die in defence 
of the fact." 

The Archbishop meanwhile was getting annoyed 
at the way in which the wary priest was escaping all 
the pitfalls they had so carefully prepared to catch him. 

" Have done," he cried, " with all these supposi 
tions of yours. We want to know what you your 
self think." 

" I think this," was the reply. " Whilst journeying 
through England I read a little book which contained 
a statement written by Father Garnett himself when 
he was in prison. This statement two Ambassadors 
and many other gentlemen declare to be true, and 
from reading it I say that I believe Father Garnett 
died a holy death and was innocent of the plot." 

They produced the public acts containing the 
account of Father Garnett s trial. 

" Those, I said, were compiled by his enemies, 
and so inspire but little confidence. But these 
things do not concern me. I came to Scotland to 
preach Christ and not Garnett. I have to answer 
for my own acts, as he already has answered to God 
for his. Each for himself, and God for us all. 

At this stage, Father Ogilvie tells us, he was over 
come by faintness, the result of his long fast. He 
was in a fever, and shivering from head to foot. The 
examiners noticed this, and, with the first touch of 
humanity they had shown, ordered him to go to the 
fire; thus his first examination came to an end. 

95 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

Even then, weak and ill as he obviously was, 
lie was not left in peace. A Highlander amongst the 
crowd declared that the prisoner was no true Ogilvie, 
but a perjurer who had adopted that honest name 
as a cloak for his misdeeds. He ended his angry 
accusation by the threat that he would throw the 
priest into the fire. 

Father Ogilvie, unmoved by this tirade, lost neither 
his temper nor his ready wit. " You could not 
throw me into the fire at a more opportune moment," 
he remarked good-humouredly, " for I am shivering 
with cold. But do it carefully, or you will scatter 
the ashes and have the trouble of picking them up." 
Even the Highlander joined in the general laugh that 
followed this sally, and they parted on good terms. 

It was now the turn of the Provost, who declared 
that the prisoner was no Ogilvie, but a townsman 
of his own, whose mother still lived in the city and 
whose brother was a preacher. Several among the 
citizens backed him up in this statement, recounting 
escapades in which Father Ogilvie had figured as a 
boy. 

I denied the whole story," he writes, " so they 
brought my so-called mother to identify me as her 
son. She refused to own me, because she said my 
fingers were not deformed, nor was I mentally deficient, 
as was her son. I was, she said, too sharp." 

The judges had come to the same conclusion. 
They announced that the examination for that day 
was at an end; the people, favourably impressed 
by Father Ogilvie s patience and sense of humour, 
were dispersed, and the priest returned to his 
prison. 



CHAPTER V: Edinburgh 
The Torture 

THE preliminary examination over, Spottis- 
woode wrote a lengthy report of the pro 
ceedings to the King. The document is still 
in existence, and parts of it make interesting reading. 
"Most Sacred and Gracious Majesty," he begins, 
" it has pleased God to cast into my hands a Jesuit 
that calls himself Ogilvie. He came to this city and 
said some Masses, for (assisting at) which we have 
tried eight of our burgesses. He himself will answer 
nothing that serves for discovering his traffic in this 
country, which appears to be great. ... I crave 
Your Majesty s pardon to deliver my advice for the 
punishment of these transgressors and the trial of 
the priest . . . exemplary punishment is necessary 
in this case, and by the law their lives, lands, and 
whole estate are in Your Majesty s hands. . . . 
Being (found) guilty and put in Your Majesty s will 
they would be fined according to their quality and 
estate; only Robert Hey gait, that has been the 
seducer of the rest, should be banished out of Your 
Majesty s dominions during Your Highness s pleasure. 
. . . The fines Your Majesty will be graciously pleased 
to command the treasurer to divide with me, (be 
cause) all are burgesses of this city, and by the 
privileges Your Majesty s predecessors have granted 
to this see these (fines) of all malefactors fall to the 
Bishop." 

97 G 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

It is obvious that the Archbishop had an eye to his 
own interests. He needed the money, he said, to 
recompense the traitor Boyd and others "who have 
served me in this business, and to whom I have par 
ticularly obliged myself. . . . For the Jesuit, Your 
Majesty may be pleased to command him to be brought 
to Edinburgh and examined by such of the Council 
as Your Majesty may be pleased to nominate. . . . 
They should be commanded to use his examination 
with great secrecy, and if he give not answer nor 
confess ingenuously, then to give him the boots 
or the torture. . . . The knowledge I have of the 
state here . . . makes me bold to deliver my opinion 
in this sort." 

Whilst awaiting the answer to this missive, the 
Archbishop gave orders that the priest should be kept 
a close captive. " Here," says Father Ogilvie in his 
narrative, " I am fastened with two rings to a lump 
of iron of about two hundred pounds weight, shaped 
like a pole, so that I can only sit up or lie on my 
back, but can do nothing else save stand up for a 
short space." 

There was nothing lacking in his prison that was 
requisite for one of his quality," says Spottiswoode. 
The winter of 1614-1615 is described in contemporary 
records as having been the coldest within the memory 
of man. All communications between the different 
parts of the country were cut off by continual snow 
storms, while many travellers and quantities of cattle 
died of exposure. What Father Ogilvie must have 
suffered, chained to one spot in his unwarmed stone 
cell in the Archbishop s prison, can be better imagined 
than described. 

98 



Rdinbiirgh The Torture 

The answer to Spottiswoode s letter was not long 
in coming. The King ordered that the priest be 
closely examined and the other prisoners brought to 
trial. 

The trial took place in Glasgow on the 7th of 
December, and the Catholics, who were found guilty 
of having heard Mass and entertained Father Ogilvie, 
were condemned. On the following day word was 
brought that the priest was to be removed to Edin 
burgh, there to undergo a fresh examination before 
a committee of the Privy Council. A great crowd 
had gathered outside the prison, among them being 
the wives and children of the condemned Catholics, 
who had been told that, in order to save himself, 
the priest had given the names of all those who had 
visited him during his stay in the city. Father 
Ogilvie s appearance was the signal for an outburst 
of cursing and vituperation; stones, snow, and dirt 
were caught up from the roadside and hurled at him 
by the furious townspeople, who believed that he 
had betrayed his friends to save his own skin. The 
servants of the Archbishop made some endeavours 
to restrain the violence of the mob, but the ministers, 
notes Father Ogilvie, looked on in silence without 
attempting to help them. 

" I rode on quite gaily," he says, "as if I cared 
naught for it, and the people were surprised at my 
coolness." He had a merry word even for those who 
pelted him with snow and dirt. " A curse upon your 
ugly face," screamed a woman in the crowd. " The 
blessing of Christ on your bonny one," was the cheery 
reply. The woman s tone suddenly changed, and in a 
few moments she was as loud in her championship 

99 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

of the priest as she had been in her denunciations. 
Before long the whole company, won over by his 
serene good-humour, was laughing heartily at his 
merry jests. 

At Edinburgh another crowd was waiting to receive 
him, and although, desiring to avoid a repetition of 
the scene in Glasgow, he had wrapped himself in a 
heavy riding-cloak, he was recognized almost at 
once. 

It seemed at first as though he were to be treated 
with unwonted leniency. He was taken to the town 
house of the Archbishop the old pre- Reformation 
residence of the Archbishops of Glasgow, situated at 
the south-east corner of Blackfriars Wynd or Street, 
and used by the prelates when Parliament was in 
session. He was comfortably lodged, and all who 
desired to speak with him were admitted to his room. 
Before leaving the house they were closely questioned 
as to how they had come to know him, and where, 
when, and with whom they had seen him. By this 
device Spottiswoode was able to discover the names 
of many Catholics who had lodged or in any way 
helped Father Ogilvie, and then proceeded, as he 
had done before in Glasgow, to circulate deliberately 
the report that the priest had betrayed his friends. 
Sundry of the Privy Councillors came also to visit the 
prisoner, and spent themselves in vain efforts to 
make him disclose some facts which might be used 
against him or his fellow-Catholics. Angry at last 
at the failure of their endeavours, they threateningly 
showed him the boots, or " bootikins," horrible 
instruments of torture which were clamped round 
the legs and tightened until the bones were broken 

100 



Edinburgh The Torture 

and crushed. Finding that this made little impres 
sion on the priest, they changed their tone and 
promised him wealth, a grand marriage, and the 
Provostship of Mofl at, if only he would give up his 
religion. 

" I replied that they ought to offer that to Father 
Moffat (who had also been arrested), as the names 
fitted in so well," writes Father Ogilvie. " They 
replied that he was too silly." 

" Oh, he is much sharper than I am, and if he does 
not suit you I shall never do." 

On the 12th of December the prisoner appeared 
for the first time before the Privy Council. Certain 
of his papers, notably those drawn up by Father 
Anderson and Father Murdoch, were produced, and 
acknowledged by Father Ogilvie as his property. 

" Who gave you hospitality when first you came 
to this city ?" was the opening inquiry. 

" I am not bound to tell you, and so I shall not 
do so." 

" The King has a right to know in what houses 
you have been as a guest, so that he may know 
whether you and others have been plotting against 
his State." 

" If I answered that question the King would use 
the information for a religious end namely, the 
persecution of the Catholics. I shall not answer." 

As they still persisted, Father Ogilvie explained his 
position at some length. 

" The King," he said, " asks that question because 
he wishes to discover and punish more Catholics, as 
he treated the Glasgow prisoners and the other 
Catholic gentlemen whom you have since arrested. 

101 



A Scottish KnigJit-Rrrant 

Now, if I say where I have been received as a guest, 
you would force my hosts to tell the names of all 
those who visited me, so should I be a cause of evil 
to them, for they in their turn would cither be 
imprisoned or deny their faith. I shall not give 
you the information you desire, because by so doing 
I should risk the loss of my own soul, offend God, and 
ruin my neighbour." 

You refuse, then, to obey the King ?" 

>c I shall render to His Majesty all things due to 
him." 

4 The King forbids Masses, and yet you say them." 

Whether Christ or the King is to be obeyed, 
judge ye. The King forbids it, but Christ in 
Luke xxii. has ordained it and commanded Masses 
to be said as I shall prove to you if you like. Now 
if the King condemns what Christ commands, what 
is he but a persecutor ?" 

Yet the King of France expels Protestants and 
the King of Spain burns them." 

6 They act, then, not against religion, but against 
heresy, and heresy is not religion, but rebellion. * 
The subject was changed. 

You have no right to be in this country against 
the King s will." 

I am just as much a Scotsman as is the King 
himself, and he cannot forbid me my country without 
legitimate cause." 

;< He has very good cause. He fears for himself 
and his State, because of the plotting of you Jesuits." 

; Let him act as did his mother and all the 
Sovereigns of Scotland before him, and he shall 
have no more reason to fear the Jesuits than the 

102 



Edinburgh The Torture 

King of Spain has. Do we owe him any more than 
our ancestors owed to his ? If he has his right to 
reign from his ancestors, why does he lay claim to 
greater powers than they bequeathed to him ? 
They neither had nor claimed any spiritual juris 
diction; they held no faith but that of the holy 
Roman Catholic Church." 

This very practical reply aroused the anger of the 
Councillors. One of them exclaimed wrathfully that 
they were not there for the purpose of holding a 
disputation. 

" And I do not dispute," replied Father Ogilvie; 
" I am only trying to prove to you that I cannot law 
fully be denied the right to live in my native country, 
for to refuse to acknowledge this new claim of the 
King s to spiritual authority is no crime. If you can 
prove that I have ever broken the laws of the country, 
bring forward your witnesses and show your proofs." 

It occurred to one of the Council that by a more 
conciliatory manner they might be more likely to 
gain their ends. " Will you not tell us frankly," he 
agreeably suggested, " all you have done in Scotland 
and with whom you have had intercourse ? . . . 
Truly it is only your refusal to give us any information 
that makes us suspect that you fear to name others, 
lest they should betray you." 

" I thank you, sir," was the answer; " your advice 
I shall accept when it seems good to me. At present 
it is not to my liking, for either through fear of you 
or through hope of reward, some might be found to 
feign knowledge of a conspiracy, and so you would 
obtain what I know you are seeking, a plausible 
excuse for taking away my life." 

103 



A Scottish K nig Jit- Err ant 

4 The King takes no man s life on account of 
religion." 

4 Why, then, were the Glasgow prisoners con 
demned to death for hearing Mass ? No other crime 
was ever laid to their charge." 

4 You will have us to put you to the torture." 

" I will tell you nothing more." 

The subject was changed once again. " Do you 
defend the doctrines of Suarez ?" they asked him. 

14 1 have not read Suarez book; if he has therein 
anything that is not of Faith, let him who teaches it 
defend it. I am no satellite of Suarez, and if you 
yourselves want to refute it well, write a better 
book on the same subject." 

The examination was hurriedly concluded, the 
priest being dismissed with an order to consider 
whether he would obey the King or 44 endure the 
worst." 

44 My mind is already made up on that subject," 
was the quiet answer; 4 you have already heard my 
decision." 

Father Ogilvie was led away, this time apparently 
to a dungeon in the castle, and the Council deliberated. 
They were determined to use every possible means 
to extract the information they wanted, and to this 
end decided to use the torture known as the depriva 
tion of sleep. 

From the evening of the 12th of October to the 
morning of the 21st eight days and nine nights 
Father Ogilvie was surrounded by men whose sole 
business was to see that he did not get one moment s 
rest. They began by keeping him constantly in 
motion, but he was soon so overpowered with weari- 

104 



Edinburgh The Torture 

ness that they were obliged to have recourse to stylets, 
pins, and other instruments, with which they stabbed 
unceasingly the most sensitive parts of his body, 
driving needles in under his nails. During all this 
time the questions continued almost without respite, 
the Privy Councillors succeeding each other with 
persistent demands as to where he had stayed, to 
whom he had administered the Sacraments, and 
where he had said Mass. But not even this inhuman 
torture, calculated to drive any man mad, could 
induce him to reveal one word of what they sought 
to discover. Steadfast strength of will, sustained 
by prayer, prevailed over bodily weakness, and not 
one of those to whom he had ministered had reason 
to regret that they had helped him in time of need 
or received at his hands the consolations of religion. 

Spottiswoode, more and more desperate as the days 
went on and the tortured priest remained silent, 
declared at last openly that he was sorry that he had 
ever had anything to do with the matter. 

One of the Council, furious at the failure of his 
attempts to make the prisoner give the desired in 
formation, told him that the torture would continue 
until he spoke or died. This roused Father Ogilvie s 
indignation. 

" You are a pack of bloodthirsty monsters !" he 
cried. " I can and will cheerfully suffer more in this 
cause than you and all your friends can inflict. Such 
things do not frighten me. I laugh at your threats 
as I would at the cackling of so many geese." 

Another, perhaps moved by a sudden impulse of 
pity, asked the tortured man whether he needed 
anything. 

105 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

;c Nothing," was the reply, " save that which you 
will not allow me sleep." 

During the night of the 20th of December he 
became so weak that they sent for a doctor, who 
declared that he had but an hour or two to live. 
Unwilling to have him die on their hands, they allowed 
him to sleep for a few hours. On the morning of the 
21st they roused him and led him before the Council. 
I was so weak and feeble," he writes, " that I 
scarce knew what I did or where I was. I did not 
even know in what city I was." 

Surely in this condition, thought his enemies, 
they would have him at their mercy. They began 
by praising their own kindness in having inflicted 
on him the torture of sleeplessness instead of that 
of the boots. 

c If you had examined me with the boots," replied 
Father Ogilvie, " I might still have been able to earn 
my bread, for I could have been carried to the schools 
or the Confessional. But you have injured my 
brain by these watchings; it is my brain that you have 
tortured, and by nothing could you have harmed 
me more, for my vocation is to serve Christ our Lord 
by my brain and not by my shins, . . . You have 
tried to make an idiot out of a sane man, and a fool 
out of a Jesuit. Good-bye to the preferments which 
you offer if they are to be gained by that kind of a 
conversion." 

" There are even worse things to come," they 
threatened, " if you do not satisfy the King." 

" Even if I had ever intended giving you the 
information you seek," was the answer, " I should 
not do so now, lest you should imagine that I gave 

106 



Edinburgh The Torture 

it through fear, like a beast moved and led by its 
senses, and not by reason like a man. Try your 
boots, and with God s help I will show you that in 
this cause I care no more for my legs than you do 
for your leggings. ... I consider myself born for 
greater things than to be overcome by sense. ... I 
trust not in myself, but in the grace of Cod. . . . 
I sue to you for nothing. One thing only I ask : What 
ever you are going to do, do quickly." 

" You speak from passion," said Spottiswoode, 
" for no sane man wishes to die if he can save his 
life, as you can do if you will satisfy the King." 

" I am not speaking from passion, but deliberately 
and with reason. I will preserve my life provided 
I am not compelled to lose my God in saving it. 
But since I cannot do both serve God and keep 
my life I do willingly give up that which is of the 
lesser value for that which is of greater." 

And so the examination came to a close. Father 
Ogilvie was taken back to his prison, and allowed 
to sleep in peace. 

" The report of my watchings," says the narrative, 
" had spread throughout Scotland." So had the 
report of his constancy. Calderwood pretends that 
during those awful days and nights " secretes were 
drewene out of him," but Spottiswoode, much as 
he desired to get the information that would lead to 
the capture of the Catholics to whom the priest had 
ministered, while declaring that " the Commissioners, 
offended at his obstinacy, and meaning to extort 
a confession from him, advised to keep him some 
nights from sleep; and this indeed wrought somewhat 
with him, so as he begun to discover certain parti- 

107 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

culars," was obliged to admit that "how soon lie 
was permitted to take any rest, he denied all, and 
was as obstinate in denying as at first." 

On the following day more visitors came to the 
prison. Some, perhaps out of sympathy, urged 
him to satisfy the King. A " certain gentleman," 
who had presided over the proceedings which pre 
vented him from sleeping, informed him that his 
head would decorate one of the spikes of the city 
gates. One of the Glasgow sheriffs wound up a tirade 
of abuse by declaring: " If / were the King I should 
boil you in wax !" 

If God had intended you for King," promptly 
replied the prisoner, " he would have made you a 
wiser man." 

The Sheriff was anything but appeased by this 
sally," remarks Father Ogilvie, " and by the 
laughter that greeted it. I wanted to drink his 
health across the table, but he would not accept my 
challenge, so I took him off in jest to get him out 
of his bad temper and make the others laugh. The 
Archbishop and the others thoroughly enjoyed it, 
saying that I imitated him as well as if I had known 
him all my life." At last the Sheriff himself could 
not help joining in the general merriment at his own 
expense, and on the following day, when the prisoner 
was on his way back to Glasgow, gave him a genial 
invitation to visit his gardens and house, and treated 
him with marked kindness while there. 



108 



CHAPTER VI: The Return to 
Glasgow 

ONE of the first acts of the Scottish Reformers 
had been to forbid the celebration of all 
feasts of the Church; any attempt to keep 
Easter, Christmas, or any other of the great Christian 
festivals, being visited with the severest punishments. 
Although this spirit was still rife among the Presby 
terians, the Bishops, who for the moment had the 
upper hand, were trying their utmost to reintroduce 
the celebration of the greater feasts (stigmatized by 
themselves a short time before as idolatry), and to 
force the unwilling ministers to follow their lead in 
the matter. 

The Christmas of 1614 was close at hand, and 
Spottiswoode, determined to be present in Glasgow 
to see that the services of Christmas Day were carried 
out in the cathedral according to his own views, and 
equally determined not to let the charge of Father 
Ogilvie pass out of his hands, decided to take him 
with him. The Privy Council did not see the matter 
in quite the same light, and it was only after a good 
deal of wrangling that the Archbishop got his way. 
On the 24th of December, the anniversary of Father 
Ogilvie s reception into the Society of Jesus fifteen 
years before, they set out on the return journey. Once 
more the priest found himself in his old cell in the 
Archbishop s prison, and it was there that he spent 
the feast of Christmas, destined to be his last on earth. 

While the Scottish Reformers were congratulating 

109 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

themselves on having abolished such " superstitious 
practices " as the celebration of Masses, the sign of 
the cross, kneeling at prayer, and veneration of the 
Saints, the dark belief in witchcraft and sorcery was 
becoming daily more widespread. Even the King, 
who had himself written a book on demonology, 
in which he set forth the most gross and absurd super 
stitions as indubitable facts, was not averse to a 
bout of witch-hunting as an agreeable and diverting 
pastime. A woman called Amies Simpson and a 
certain Dr. Fian, accused of having, by means 
of sorcery, raised a storm against His Majesty of 
Scotland when on his way home from Denmark, were 
horribly tortured in his presence, Fian s nails being 
torn from his fingers, his finger-bones splintered in 
the thumbscrews, and his legs crushed to pieces in the 
boots. Both declared under the torture that they 
had been present at a witch meeting, and the woman 
described one of the diabolical orgies she had at 
tended in the church of Berwick, where the Devil, 
clad in a black gown and with a black hat on his 
head, preached from the pulpit to a number of 
witches ! She was condemned, together with Fian 
and thirty others, whom they certified to have been 
also present, and they were all burned alive on the same 
day. To bring an accusation of witchcraft against 
an enemy was well known to be one of the easiest 
ways of getting rid of him; the most idle tales were 
eagerly listened to, and many innocent people, 
who under the agony of the torture would have 
admitted anything that was suggested to them, were 
executed. The greater part of the winter of 1625, says 
Spottiswoode, was spent in the hearing of these cases. 



no 



The Return to Glasgow 

Under these circumstances it is hardly surprising 
to find that during the first weeks of the New Year 
an individual was found ready to swear that he had 
seen Father Ogilvie whispering during the night over 
a great black book by the dim light of a single candle. 
As every priest is required to say the Divine Office 
daily, and as breviaries are usually black and were 
in those days not infrequently large, there was nothing 
very damning about this statement. But the imagina 
tion of the informer was able to supply more sinister 
details. A company of little black demons, he 
declared, were gambolling round the priest, evidently 
called up from the nether regions by his muttered 
incantations. They had brought with them, very 
obligingly, some choice refreshments, of which they 
and the Jesuit partook in company. This accusation, 
however, was too insufficiently supported to be taken 
seriously, even in the seventeenth century, and, 
anxious as the Archbishop was to find some incrimina 
ting evidence against his prisoner, it was allowed to 
drop. " I burst out laughing," says Father Ogilvie, 
" when the ministers related these things to me, and 
used no other argument to refute the calumny than 
by admitting that I used my breviary. Before an 
Assembly the preachers said that they did not even 
yet know what I might be; and the Archbishop re 
marked that if they had not found my letters and 
bundle he could not have discovered anything about 
me. Is not this an intolerable thing, he complained, 
that you will let out nothing, when so many people 
are tiring themselves out without getting a step 
forward in the matter ? 

There is something incredibly naive about the 

in 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

complaint that the priest will not give evidence 
against himself or his friends and so provide an 
excuse for his and their condemnation. It is, 
moreover, of great value, for it effectually disproves 
a subsequent statement of Spottiswoode s that under 
the torture Father Ogilvie had revealed the names of 
all the Catholics who had given him hospitality. 

Andrew Knox, Bishop of the Isles, believing that 
he might succeed where so many others had failed, 
then undertook to examine the prisoner. He had 
been one of those ministers who had so bitterly 
opposed the re-establishment of the Bishops by 
James, and had preached a most violent sermon 
against the King for this most " ungodly act." 
Scarcely a week had elapsed since this outburst 
of zeal, when he accepted with alacrity one of the 
new sees offered to him by the canny monarch, who 
presumably knew his man. The story was well 
known in Scotland, and did not add greatly to the 
credit of the new prelate, who consoled himself 
by accepting a second see, that of Raphoc in Ireland, 
where he went about trying and condemning to death 
all the Irish Catholics on whom he could lay hands. He 
had just returned from this pastoral visitation when 
he came to visit Father Ogilvie in his prison at Glasgow. 

" I can say Mass as well as you," was his opening 
salutation. 

" You are a priest, then ?" asked Father Ogilvie. 

11 No." 

" Then you can neither say Mass, nor are you a 
Bishop." 

This retort Knox chose to ignore, for he had a 
suggestion to make. 

112 



The Return to Glasgow 

" Come, now," he urged, " be sensible. If you 
will forsake these human inventions and follow the 
religion preached and professed by the Apostles, you 
will be well provided for, for you are a high-spirited 
fellow and very wide awake." 

" Your religion that of the Apostles !" said Father 
Ogilvie. " Why, your religion is not yet ten years 
old. When I was a boy you held as an article of 
faith that there was not any head of the Church, 
and that no one ought to be called so but Christ, 
and now you swear that the King is the head of the 
Church in his own dominions. You taught one 
thing then, and now the exact opposite. This is not 
apostolic doctrine, for St. Paul says: If I should 
destroy again the things which I have built up, I 
make myself a prevaricator. Now you preached at 
Paisley against the re-establishment of the Episcopate, 
and said in your sermon that you would openly declare 
to be a devil any man who accepted a bishopric. 
You even said that such a person would deserve 
that the people should spit in his face. And within 
a fortnight you yourself became a Bishop. Moreover, 
not contented with the episcopate of the Isles, you 
took another fatter one in Ireland. Look at Cooper, 
too, who wrote a book denouncing the Bishops, and 
is now Bishop of Galloway. All of you preachers, 
in the General Assembly only a few years ago, swore 
and subscribed your declaration that the name and 
office of a Bishop is to be abominated, and not per 
missible in the Church, and now you teach the 
contrary." 

"Not at all," replied the Bishop; "truth makes 
itself known. We see more clearly than formerly." 

113 H 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

" Quite so," was the reply. " You see thousands 
in the revenues of a Bishop, while as preachers you 
scarcely knew where to find a hundred. But tell me 
this: If the Articles denouncing Bishops were God s 
truth sixteen years ago, how does it happen that they 
are now false ? What are these doctrines of yours, 
building up and destroying the same thing ? You 
said then that they were the Word of God, and now 
you say that what you at present hold is the Word 
of God. Wliat lying Word is this, and who is this 
changeable God whose Word you preach ? If we 
were bound to believe you then, how can we be 
bound to believe your contrary doctrines now ? 
For then as now you brought forward Holy Scripture 
to prove your words. Unless I am greatly mistaken, 
your doctrine is wickedness lying to itself. 

" Mr. Ogilvic," replied His Lordship, in nowise 
disconcerted by this plain speaking, " you are a right 
spirited fellow ! I only wish I had a few of your sort 
to follow me. I would make good use of them." 

" I would sooner follow the hangman to the 
gallows," was the reply, " for you arc going straight 
to the Devil." 

" Is that the way you speak to me ?" demanded the 
prelate. 

" You must excuse me, my Lord," said Father 
Ogilvic; " I have not learnt court phraseology, and we 
Jesuits speak as we think. I may not flatter you. 
I honour you for your civil dignity and respect your 
grey hairs, but your religion and Episcopate I count 
as nothing. You are a layman, nothing more, and 
have no more spiritual authority than your walking- 
stick. If you do not wish me to say what I think 

114 



The Return to Glasgow 

about these things you had better bid me hold my 
peace, arid I will be silent. But if you wish me to 
speak, I shall say what I think, and not what pleases 
you." 

" It is a great pity," said the Bishop, with an air 
of compassion, " that poverty should have made 
you a Papist." 

" You measure me by your own standard, my Lord, 
who abjured ten Articles of faith for two bishoprics," 
was the well-deserved retort. " I was in no poverty. 
As my father s eldest son, I could have enjoyed the 
position and the patrimony of a gentleman, even if 
I had not been educated. And if I chose now, 
like you, to change my religion, I could have a good 
income, together with the favour of the King." 

Foiled at every point and smarting under the 
home truths so incisively presented, the Bishop 
took himself off " in a great rage," and troubled the 
priest no more. 

Early in January the Archbishop received a 
royal mandate, ordering that Father Ogilvie should 
be examined by a Commission consisting of Spottis- 
woode himself, the Bishop of Argyll, Lord Fleming, 
Sir George Elphinstone, and James Hamilton, Provost 
of the city, and that certain questions should be put 
to him. 

On the 18th of January the prisoner was brought 
before the Commissioners, and the following questions 
propounded : 

" Whether the Pope is judge and has power in 
spiritualibus over His Majesty; and whether that 
power be held also in temporalibus, if it be in ordinc ad 
spiritualia, as Bellarmine holds." 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

To this question Father Ogilvie replied that he 
thought that the Pope was judge of His Majesty and 
had power over him in spiritualibus, if the King 
were a Christian. 

" And do you hold that the power extends to matters 
in temporalibus if it be in or dine ad spiritualia ?" 

This Father Ogilvie refused to answer, on the 
grounds that no decision had been given by the Church. 

" Can the Pope depose an heretical King ?" was the 
next question. 

4 That he can do so is the opinion of many theo 
logians," was the reply. " When it shall be defined 
as an article of faith I shall lay down my life for it. 
Under present circumstances I am not bound to say 
what I myself think, save to the Pope or his lawfully 
appointed delegate." 

44 May a King who has been excommunicated by the 
Pope be lawfully killed ?" 

;4 That question I refuse to answer, on the sole 
grounds that, were I to do so, I should be admitting 
your claim to a spiritual jurisdiction which you do 
not possess. If you consulted me for the sake of 
instruction I would tell you, but since you interrogate 
me in your official capacity as judges, I cannot with 
a safe conscience answer you. I have condemned 
both the oaths submitted to the Catholics of England 
those of Supremacy and Allegiance." 

44 Has the Pope jurisdiction over the King ?" 

44 He has, if the King be a baptized Christian." 

" Can the Pope excommunicate the King ?" 

44 He can." 

44 How can he excommunicate a man who does not 
belong to his Church ?" 

xx6 



The Return to Glasgow 

Considering the fact that the Kirk had been 
engaged during the last fifty years in excommunicating 
everyone who professed the Catholic religion, this 
question seems a little strange. Father Ogilvie 
explained to his judges that the Pope, as Head of the 
Church, acquired power over every man at baptism, 
for the reason that, when baptized, he enters the 
Church, and becomes a member of Christ s Mystical 
Body and a sheep of Christ s flock, of which the Pope 
is the Shepherd. 

The questions and the answers given by the 
priest, together with a statement of his refusal to 
give an answer on certain other points, were then 
drawn up and signed. Father Ogilvie was dismissed 
to his prison, and the document sent off post haste 
to London. As the answer could not be expected 
for some little time to come, Spottiswoode seized the 
opportunity to pay a visit to the capital. Deter 
mined, however, that his prisoner should be w r ell 
guarded during his absence, he removed the gaoler 
of the prison, replacing him by his own steward, a 
rough and hard man, who treated Father Ogilvie 
very ill. Not trusting to the bolts with which the 
heavy feet-chains were fastened together, this man 
caused pieces of iron, like wedges turned back on 
either side, to be inserted in the joinings of the rings, 
lest the prisoner should escape. Extra men, chosen 
from among the townsmen of Glasgow, were put on to 
watch him during the night, although Father Ogilvie 
laughed at all their precautions, telling them that 
he would not break his chains were they of wax, nor 
go out of the dungeon if all the doors were left open. 

It was during this time that the Archbishop s wife, 

117 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

who seems to have had a kinder heart than her 
husband, although the priest s fellow-prisoners have 
asserted that her amiability was most noticeable 
when she was in the cheery dispositions induced by 
what is known in the vernacular as a dram," 
allowed him the use of pens and paper. It was in this 
way that Father Ogilvie, during the early days of 
February, was able to draw up the narrative of his 
arrest and imprisonment. But sharp eyes were 
watching, and w r ord was sent to Spottiswoode that 
certain privileges were being allowed to the prisoner 
which he himself would be the last to sanction. The 
lady was ordered to let the priest alone, and to show 
him no more pity. Hearing this, Father Ogilvie 
left the narrative unfinished and hastened to write 
two letters, one to the General of the Society, and 
the other to Father Ferdinand Albcri, who had 
received him into its ranks. 

The former, addressed to Father Acquaviva for 
Father Ogilvie was ignorant of the fact that he had 
died a few months before was an appeal for prayers 
to strengthen him during the ordeal which lay before 
him. 

" VERY REVEREND FATHER IN CHRIST " (he 
wrote), " Pax Christi. 

" Most beloved Father . . . my punishments are 
terrible and my tortures have been sharp; your 
paternal charity will make you pray for me^that I 
may endure all with generous courage for Jesus, 
Who triumphed over all things for us. And may 
He long preserve you as the leader of His soldiers 
and a bulwark of Holy Church. 

118 



The Return to Glasgow 

" To your very Reverend Paternity from your 
little servant in Christ and most unworthy son, 

" JOHN OGILVIE." 



Before the letter had reached Rome, Father Ogilvie 
had gone to join his chief in Heaven. 

The second letter to Father Alberi runs as 
follows: 

" REVEREND FATHER IN CHRIST, Pax Christi. 

" In what state I am your Reverence will easily 
learn from the bearer of this letter, Mr. John Mayne. 
It is a capital offence to be caught writing, so I must 
hurry before my gaoler returns. Your Reverence, 
as Provincial of Austria, first leceived me into the 
Society, and on that account I confidently recom 
mend my spiritual children to you. Should, there 
fore, Mr. John Mayne require your assistance, I 
beg that he may find in my dear Father Ferdinand 
some share of the kindness with which he treated me. 
... I have written some account of what I have 
suffered, and have given it to the bearer of this 
letter. ... I earnestly recommend myself to your 
charitable prayers. I write from the prison of 
Glasgow, where I lie bound with two hundred pounds 
weight of iron, awaiting death as my fate, unless I 
accept the King s offer of a rich benefice and another 
faith. Once I was tortured by being kept without 
sleep for eight days and nine nights. Now I expect 
the other forms of torture and then death. The 
guard will be coming. 

ci Your Reverence s servant in. Christ, 

" JOHN OGILVIE, S.J." 
119 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

These two letters, together with the narrative, 
Father Ogilvie managed to eonvey to John Mayne, 
who carried them with him when he went abroad, 
and delivered them into the hands of the General of 
the Society. An eye-witness, in all probability 
Mayne himself, completed the unfinished story by 
an account of the events that took place between 
the 22nd and 28th of February, including a full 
report of the trial and death of the martyr. 

It has been asserted by several of Father Ogilvie s 
biographers that one of the " other forms of torture " 
of which he speaks, that of the redoubtable boots, 
was inflicted on him after the letter to Father Alberi 
was written. As the effect of the boots was to crush 
the muscles, and sometimes the bones of the legs, 
and the martyr s execution took place within six 
days from the writing of the letter, this seems, 
on the face of it, impossible. For we know from the 
contemporary records that Father Ogilvie walked 
to the place where the scaffold had been erected, and 
climbed the ladder to the gallows, a thing he could 
not have done had he suffered this particular form 
of torture within the week. It is quite possible, 
however, that the boots were used on an earlier 
occasion. We know that Father Ogilvie was con 
tinually threatened with them while in prison. 

On the 24th of February came the announcement 
that the trial was to be on the following Tuesday, 
the 28th. The orders of the King were to the effect 
that the prisoner was to be judged solely on the 
answers that he had either given or refused to give 
to the five questions put to him a month before. 
During the few days that remained Spottiswoode 

I2O 



The Return to Glasgow 

and his wife left him no peace, visiting him con 
stantly, with promises of honours and riches if he 
would only do what was necessary to please the 
King; while Father Ogilvie, although he thanked 
them courteously for their goodwill in the matter, 
refused steadily to withdraw a word of what he had 
said. 

Nor were there wanting other visitors, amongst 
them the Earl of Lothian, who did their utmost, 
though with no better success, to persuade him to 
renounce his Faith. The ministers of Glasgow came 
in a body to give him what they described as " counsel 
and comfort," but Father Ogilvie replied to them 
that he had no need of counsel, since he had resolved 
what he would do, and that when he stood in need 
of comfort he would let them know it. 

On the eve of the trial some Catholic friends 
contrived to gain admittance to his cell. Father 
Ogilvie washed their feet, and spoke happily to them 
of his approaching " nuptials." One of these gentle 
men, a Mr. Browne, had come to tell the priest of a 
means of escape which he and some other friends had 
succeeded in devising. " The Father," he wrote, 
" smiled affectionately, and, embracing me, ex 
pressed his great gratitude for our kindness, but 
answered me that death for so glorious a cause was 
more acceptable to him than life. He looked forward 
to that death, he said, with so fervent a desire that 
he feared nothing so much as that, by some accident, 
it might be snatched from him." 

It is asserted that, although persisting in his 
refusal to accept the opportunity for escape, Father 
Ogilvie availed himself of it in so far as to slip out 

121 



A Scottish Knight- Rr rant 

of his prison and make his way to the gallows, 
already erected in preparation for his execution on 
the morrow. There he remained for a few moments 
in prayer, a woman of the town, not herself a Catholic, 
giving testimony and certifying on oath that she had 
seen him kneeling there at dead of night, and had 
heard him repeat the words: 

" Maria, Mater Gratia?, 
Mater misericordise, 
Tu nos ab hoste protege, 
Et hora mortis suscipe." 

We know that these very words were on his lips 
when he stood next day on the scaffold, and the 
possibility of his having been able to evade the 
vigilance of his gaolers would be explained by the 
fact that they spent this last night of the martyr s 
life on earth in drinking and merrymaking with their 
boon companions. The incessant noise wearied the 
priest, who was seeking help from God for the ordeal 
that lay before him on the morrow. Towards the 
small hours of the morning there was quiet, and 
Father Ogilvie spent the last hours of his captivity 
in uninterrupted prayer. 



122 



CHAPTER VII: The Trial 

SHORTLY before eleven o clock on the morn 
ing of Tuesday, the 28th of February, a 
magistrate in command of an armed force 
arrived at the prison, and inquired of Father Ogilvie 
whether he were ready to proceed to his trial. The 
priest replied that he had long been ready and had 
eagerly awaited that day. His cloak had disappeared, 
the gaoler having already seized on it as his per 
quisite, but a ragged old garment was found, wrapped 
in which Father Ogilvie walked from his prison to the 
Town House, where his judges were awaiting him. 
The news of the trial had got abroad, and the streets 
were packed with people. A very difi erent spirit 
prevailed among them from that of three months 
before. Then they had hooted at him and abused 
him as a betrayer of his friends; now they knew the 
truth, and how that, after days and nights of cruel 
torture, sharp questioning, and enticing offers of 
freedom and wealth, no word concerning those who 
had helped him in his ministry or had shown him 
hospitality had crossed his lips. There were many 
Catholics in the crowd who openly invoked blessings 
on his head, while the others cried, " God speed you !" 
or looked on in silent sympathy. 

Arrived at the Town House, Father Ogilvie was 
placed in the dock and confronted by his judges, 
consisting of the Provost and three magistrates of the 
city, " assisted by the honourable lords the Arch 
bishop of Glasgow, the Marquis of Hamilton, the Earl 

123 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

of Lothian, Lord Sanquhar, Lord Fleming, Lord 
JBoyd, and Sir William Stewart." It was a strange 
kind of trial, for the prisoner was already condemned 
and the scaffold erected for his execution a trial 
which all knew could have but one ending. 

As soon as all were assembled, Mr. Hay, the deputy 
of the Attorney- General, arose to read the indictment. 
This document, crowded with lengthy legal terms 
and ambiguous statements, charged the prisoner 
with " having repaired to this country, and by your 
conferences, intisements, auricular confessions, Masse 
sayings, and other crafty means, indevoured yourself 
not only to corrupt many of His Majesty s leiges in 
religion, but also to pervert them from their duetifull 
obedience to His Majesty. ... And especially you 
being demanded to answer some particular inter 
rogatories, you answered treasonably that you would 
not declare your mind except to him that is judge 
in the controversies of religion, whom you declared 
to be the Pope or one having authority of him. . . . 
You declined treasonably His Highness jurisdiction 
and authority royal in refusing to answer . . . and 
you freely and unrequiredly did adde to your forsadc 
answers the damnable conclusion that you con 
demned the oath of supremacie and allegiance given 
to His Majesty by his subjects in these dominions." 

The reading of the indictment ended, one of the 
judges observed to the prisoner that he was not 
accused of saying Mass nor of seducing His Majesty s 
subjects to a contrary religion, but of declining His 
Majesty s authority. 

" So said Mr. Hay," replied the priest, " yet 
he has himself just read the indictment in which 

124 



The Trial 

the charge was distinctly put as Masse saying, 
etc. 

" The statutes mentioned in the indictment," 
interrupted Mr. Hay, " make it treason not to answer 
the King s Majesty in any matter which shall be 
demanded." 

Yet the case against the prisoner, as set forth in 
the indictment, was that he had said Mass, ad 
ministered the Sacraments, and refused to answer 
certain questions. Arnott, the Protestant lawyer, 
who cannot be suspected of any bias in the priest s 
favour, in his notes on the trial puts the matter as 
follows: 

" He, Father Ogilvie, was indicted on three statutes. 
. . . The first of these was declamatory, not penal ; 
neither could have served to condemn the prisoner. 
The third statute, broad as it was, could not have 
affected the prisoner s life had not a false construction 
been put upon it. ... If the Act does bear the 
construction put upon it, then to oblige a person 
to answer, under pain of death, an interrogatory 
which may affect his life, is perhaps the greatest 
pitch of tyranny and iniquity that any legislative 
body ever attained." 

The three Acts of Parliament on which the in 
dictment was based were then read in Court, as well 
as the paper signed by Father Ogilvie a few weeks 
before. He was asked if he could urge any reason 
why the trial should not proceed, and according to 
Spottiswoode s account answered as follows: 

" First, under protestation that I in no way receive 
you as my judges or acknowledge your judgment, I 
deny any point led against me to be treason. . . . 

125 



A Scottish Knight- Err ant 

As for your Acts of Parliament, they were made by 
a number of partial men, the best in the land not 
agreeing with them. . . . You think me an enemy 
of the King s authority. I know no other authority 
of his save that which he received from his prede 
cessors, who acknowledged the Pope of Rome his 
jurisdiction. If the King will be to me as his ancestors 
were to mine, I will obey and acknowledge him for 
my King; but if he play the renegade from God, 
as he and you all do, I will not acknowledge him 
any more than this old hat." 

It is open to question if the priest really did reply 
as Spottiswoode asserts him to have done. In the 
Archbishop s " True Relation " there are several 
statements which are indubitably false, and much 
that is true is deliberately distorted and misrepre 
sented. 

The jury were then chosen, Father Ogilvie being 
told that he was free to challenge any of the jurors. 
He had one exception to them all, he replied: they 
were either enemies to his cause or friends. If 
enemies, they could not be admitted to try him; and if 
friends, they should be standing with him, prisoners 
at the bar. 

" Your judges, then, should come from Rome," 
was the sarcastic comment; " or we had better choose 
from amongst those who used to attend your Masses." 

" Those poor people," replied the prisoner, " know 
better how to take care of themselves and their 
families than to judge in such cases." 

" Poor people indeed !" sneered Spottiswoode. 
" You made them poor." 

The Archbishop seems, for the moment, to have 

126 



The Trial 

forgotten the ready wit that had so often beaten him 
in controversy, or he would not have laid himself 
open to the obvious retort that it was he himself who 
had impoverished the Catholics by the heavy fines 
he had forced them to pay. 

" That is a lie !" he angrily declared. 

" Give your definition of a lie," was the quiet 
answer. " I say what I think, and what I know 
to be true." 

Father Ogilvie now objected to one of the men 
chosen as juror, knowing him to be a Catholic, 
and fearing that he might incur some danger. The 
jurors being then sworn in, he addressed them in a 
few solemn words. 

J" I wish these gentlemen," he said, " to consider 
well what they do. I cannot be judged or tried by 
them, and whatsoever I suffer here is by way of injury 
and not of judgment. ... I am accused, yet have 
done no offence, neither will I beg for mercy." 

j" That is strange," remarked Spottiswoode. " You 
say you have done no offence, and yet you have come 
to this kingdom and have laboured to pervert His 
Highness s subjects. Both of these are against the 
law. In this have you done no offence ?" 

" No," replied the prisoner; " I came under 
obedience, and even if I were now let out of the 
kingdom I should return. Neither do I repent any 
thing but that I have not been so busy as I should in 
that which you call perverting. If all the hairs on 
my head were priests, they should all come into the 
kingdom." 

" And do you not," argued the Archbishop, " esteem 
it a fault to go against the King s commands, especially 

127 



A Scottish, Knight-Errant 

in this point of his forbidding you the kingdom ? 
Surely, if a King have any power at all, it seems he 
may rid himself and his country of those with whom 
he is offended, and it savours of great rebellion to say 
otherwise." 

: I am as free a subject," replied Father Ogilvie, 
" as he is a King; he cannot discharge (me from the 
country) if I be not an offender, and that I am 
not." 

These interruptions ended, the Court harked back 
once more to the priest s refusal to answer the King s 
questions. 

" I decline the King s authority in all matters of 
religion," answered the prisoner, "for with such 
things he has nothing to do. Neither have I done 
anything save what the ministers did at Dundee. 
They refused to acknowledge His Majesty s supremacy 
in spiritual matters; the best ministers of the land 
are still of that mind, and if they be wise will con 
tinue so." 

It was not calculated to appease the Archbishop s 
anger that the priest should approve the standpoint 
of the ministers, opponents as they were of the 
Episcopacy of which Spottiswoode himself was the 
head, and it must have considerably astonished the 
ministers present to hear a Jesuit speaking up for 
their policy. 

The subject of the Papal supremacy was then 
broached. At first Father Ogilvie flatly refused to 
discuss the matter, but, wearied out at last by their 
persistent demands, he made a lengthy and detailed 
statement. 

" It is a question amongst the Doctors of the 
128 



The Trial 

Church," he said, " and many hold not improbably the 
affirmative, that a Pope can depose an heretical 
King. A Council hath not yet determined the point. 
If it shall be concluded by the Church that the Pope 
hath such power, I will give my life in defence of it, 
and had I a thousand lives they should all go the 
same way. If the King offended against the Catholic 
Church [be it remembered that James VI., the King 
in question, was born of Catholic parents and baptized 
a Catholic], then the Pope might punish him, just 
as he would punish a shepherd or the poorest fellow 
in the country. In abrogating the Pope s authority, 
the estate of Parliament went beyond their limit; 
the King, in usurping the Pope s power, lost his own. 
In all things in which I ought to obey the King I will 
show myself most observant; if anyone should invade 
his temporal estates I would spend the last drop of 
my blood in fighting for him; but in those things which 
the King has usurped to himself that is to say, in 
the matter of spiritual jurisdiction I neither may 
nor can render him obedience." 

Here again he insisted that he spoke thus only 
because he was commanded to give an answer, but 
that his judges had no right to demand to know his 
thoughts on spiritual matters. Were his opinion 
asked, he said, by anyone who needed his advice, he 
would unhesitatingly give it. 

" I consult you, then, about these difficulties," 
glibly put in one of the jurors, who no doubt thought 
himself a very clever fellow; " what do you advise 
me to think ?" 

" It is rather ridiculous," replied the priest, " that 
you who are to be my judge should ask counsel of me, 

129 I 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

the prisoner. . . . You are all trying to entrap me 
in my words, and to discover a pretext which will 
satisfy your cruel desire to put me to death. You are 
like a swarm of flies crowding round a juicy dish, 
or fishermen circling round a pond to catch one poor 
little fish." 

" The method of procedure was the same that is so 
frequently condemned by Protestants in the Holy 
Court of the Inquisition," says Hill Burton. " It 
dealt not merely with the sayings and actions that 
had been proved against the man, but endeavoured 
with subtle and cruel labour to extract the secrets 
of his heart." 

The judges, determined to convict him of treason, 
continued to put the same old questions set by the 
King in every conceivable form and manner, until 
Father Ogilvie declined to speak at all on the subject. 
He was then told that his silence would be taken as an 
admission of guilt. 

" You may judge," he replied, " of my words and 
deeds. As for my thoughts, leave those to God, 
Who alone can see and judge them." 

At one period of the trial the different accounts 
are rather confused, and it is difficult to discover 
the sequence of the various points touched upon he 
was questioned on the subject of regicide. Spottis- 
woode, in his " True Relation," gives a very different 
account of the priest s answer from the Catholic 
narrative. From the former we are led to believe 
that Father Ogilvie expressed his approval of 
regicides, while his companion who wrote the Catholic 
narrative asserts that he expressed his detestation 
of them and called them murderers. As Father 

130 



The Trial 

Ogilvie was a theological student in Austria when the 
General of the Jesuits, Father Acquaviva, denounced 
de Mariana s notorious book " De Rege et Regis 
Institutione," which deals with this very subject, 
forbidding any member of the Society to hold or 
teach the theories therein contained, it would seem 
that here again Spottiswoode was deliberately giving 
a false impression. Other words, moreover, of the 
martyr s which are recorded by the Archbishop 
himself, maintaining that he would gladly die for 
the King were his temporal estates in danger, are 
directly in contradiction to such a statement. But 
the aim of Spottiswoode was, first, to justify his own 
action in putting the Jesuit to death, and secondly 
to prove that cc there is no means left to bee a Catholic 
and the King s loyall subject"**- The trial and the 
heroic death of the martyr had wrought a very 
favourable effect on the people, and it was in order to 
do away with this that the " True Relation " was 
written. Whenever the words of the priest would 
not fit in with this design, Spottiswoode deliberately 
altered them. The events recorded in the Catholic 
narrative are attested by the oaths of eye-witnesses, 
but of this document the Archbishop knew 
nothing. 

Before the jury retired to consider their verdict, 
Father Ogilvie addressed them in a few solemn words, 
bidding them consider well what they were about 
to do, and to remember the great and final judgment 

1 The whole proceedings connected with the trial were disgraceful 
to all concerned, especially to Archbishop Spottiswoode, who took 
so active a part in them (Grub, " Ecclesiastical History of Scotland," 
ii. 302). 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

when they themselves would stand at the tribunal 
of God. 

Mr. Hay, the Advocate, then demanded an assize 
of wilful error, should the jury acquit the prisoner of 
any point in the indictment. This meant nothing 
more nor less than that the jury would themselves 
be punished if they failed to pronounce him guilty. 
With this double warning ringing in their ears, the 
jurors withdrew. It was a question whether the fear 
of God or the fear of man would prevail. 

Whilst awaiting their return, the Archbishop, 
approaching Father Ogilvie, asked him whether, if 
his life were spared, he would remain out of the 
country. 

" If," was the intrepid answer, " I were exiled for 
any crime, I should indeed not return; but if I were 
banished for the good cause I should not fail to come 
back. I would that each hair of my head were a 
priest, to convert thousands to the true Faith, and 
you, my Lord Archbishop, first of all." 

The jury had been absent but a few minutes when 
they returned. They were unanimous in their 
verdict, and found the prisoner guilty. 

The judgment was then pronounced: "That the 
said John Ogilvie, for the treasons by him committed, 
should be hanged and quartered." 

" Have you anything else to say ?" asked the 
Archbishop. 

" No, my Lord," answered Father Ogilvie; " but 
I give your lordship thanks for your kindness, and 
will desire your hand." 

" If you shall acknowledge your fault done to 
His Majesty," replied Spottiswoode, " and crave 

132 



The Trial 

God s and His Highness s pardon, I will give you 
both hand and heart, for I wish you to die a good 
Christian." 

Father Ogilvie then asked whether he would be 
permitted to speak to the people. 

" If you will declare openly that you suffer ac 
cording to the law, justly for your offence, and ask 
His Majesty s pardon for all your treasonable speeches, 
you shall be licensed to say what you please; other 
wise not," was the reply. 

Father Ogilvie s only answer to this was that he 
forgave them all from his heart, as he desired that 
God would forgive him his own sins. He then asked 
for the prayers of any Catholics who were present in 
the crowded Court-house. 

The Court was then cleared, for the trial, a mere 
mockery of justice, was over. Forbes, the Protestant 
Bishop of Brechin, described it later as a judicial 
murder, and deeply deplored the fact that the Arch 
bishop had been mixed up in it. What Arnott, the 
Protestant lawyer, thought of it we have already 
seen. 

It was a matter of expediency that Father Ogilvie 
should be put to death. The long-drawn-out struggle 
between the Bishops and the Kirk was in an acute 
stage, and one of the chief accusations brought 
against the Episcopal party by their enemies was 
a leaning towards Popery. Pitcairn allows that the 
Bishops felt the necessity for some great coup, in 
order that the Presbyterians might be assured that 
they had no sympathy with Papists. Father Ogilvie 
was but a pawn in the game: his life was nothing to 
the Bishops, while his death might give them a 

133 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

temporary advantage in the struggle for supremacy. 
Some semblance of a trial was necessary, and that 
trial had been held. The scaffold, already erected 
in the town before the sentence was passed, bore 
silent witness to the fact that the sentence was a 
foregone conclusion. 



134 



CHAPTER VIII: The Last 
Scene 

AT about one o clock, the trial being now over, 
the judges and various officials, having 
informed the prisoner that he had " leisure 
given him of the space of some three hours to prepare 
himself for death," left the Court. Those three hours 
Father Ogilvie spent in the Court-room, kneeling with 
his face to the wall. 

Shortly before four o clock the Sheriff came to fetch 
him, accompanied by the executioner. Father 
Ogilvie greeted them calmly, and having thanked 
the latter for the office he was about to perform, 
embraced him and assured him of his forgiveness. The 
priest s hands were then tightly bound behind him, 
and he was led forth to the place of execution. He 
had neither eaten nor drunk since the day before. 

A great throng of people, amongst whom were 
many strangers, were gathered round the scaffold. 
The story of those terrible eight days and nine nights 
of torture had got abroad, as well as that of the 
priest s unflinching endurance. They watched him 
in a tense silence as he drew near to the gallows, 
kissed it, and knelt down at the foot of the ladder. 
Two ministers came forward, and, according to 
Spottiswoode s account, very " gravely and Christianly 
exhorted him," but he prayed on, unheedful of the 
interruption. Piqued, perhaps, by this lack of 
response to their overtures, one of the ministeis, 

135 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

turning to the crowd, assured all present that the 
prisoner was being punished for treason alone, and 
in no wise for his religion. At this Father 
Ogilvie shook his head. "He does me wrong," he 
said. 

A friend of his, one John Abercrombie, in all 
probability a Catholic priest, had managed to keep 
close to the martyr, and stood beside him on the 
scaffold. " No matter, John/ he said, " the more 
wrongs the better." The saying has passed into a 
proverb in Scotland: " The mair wrangs ye dree, the 
better ye be, as Abercrombie tauld the priest." 

Shortly afterwards Abercrombie was overheard 
asking Father Ogilvie to make him some sign just 
before he died, probably with the intention of giving 
him a last Absolution. " For this and other business 
he had with the priest," says Spottiswoode, "he 
was put off the scaffold." The Archbishop does not 
mention, as does the writer of the Catholic narrative, 
that he was thrown off head-first with such violence 
that, had he not fallen on the heads of the closely 
packed crowd, he would have been like to break his 
neck. " Why should one traitor patronize another ?" 
cried the Archbishop s servants, as they hurled him 
down. 

" I am astonished at your methods," said Father 
Ogilvie to his enemies. " You forbid me to speak 
on my own behalf, and meanwhile you misrepresent 
me to the people. You act unjustly when you say 
I have said or done anything to the King s prejudice. 
You have written falsely about me to His Majesty. 
I and another Scotsman, Father Crichton, have done 
more amongst foreign nations in the service of the 

136 



The Last Scene 

King than all the ministers in Scotland could do, 
and for him I am prepared to peril my life." 

Standing near him was Mr. Browne, the Catholic 
friend who had devised the means of escape of which 
the priest had refused to avail himself. 

He heard distinctly, and testified later on oath, 
that the following conversation took place between 
the condemned man and one of the ministers who 
had accompanied him to the scaffold: 

" What a grievous thing it is, my dear Ogilvie," 
said the minister, " that you wilfully and knowingly 
throw away your life." 

" Wilfully !" was the reply. " You speak as if 
my life hung on rny own free-will. W T as I not 
convicted of treason, and for that condemned to 
death ?" 

" Have done with that !" continued the minister. 
"Give up the Pope and Popery, and all will be 
forgiven." 

" You mock me," said the prisoner. 

" Not at all," replied the minister; " I speak in all 
seriousness and with good authority. The Arch 
bishop commissioned me to offer you his daughter 
in marriage and the richest prebend in the diocese 
if you will change from your religion to ours." 

Father Ogilvie saw his chance and took it. 

" I would willingly live, if I could do so with 
honour," he said. 

" I have already told you," answered the minister, 
" that you will be loaded with honours." 

" Will you say that so that all the people can hear ? " 
asked the priest. 

" By all means," was the reply. 

137 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

" Listen !" cried Father Ogilvie to the bystanders; 
" the minister has something to say." 

Delighted with the result of his intervention, the 
minister turned to the people. " I promise Mr. 
Ogilvie," he announced, " life, the Archbishop s 
daughter, and a rich prebend, if he comes over to 
our side." 

" Do you hear ?" asked the priest. " Will you bear 
witness to the promise ?" 

" We hear !" cried the sympathetic crowd. " Come 
down, Mr. Ogilvie, come down !" 

The Catholics who were watching held their 
breath. W T as he going to apostatize at the last 
moment, with the martyr s palm almost within his 
grasp after so long and weary a battle, so bravely 
fought for Christ ? 

" Will there be no danger ?" asked Father Ogilvie, 
" that I shall be punished for treason afterwards ?" 

" No, no !" shouted the crowd. 

" Well, then," he insisted, " I stand here on account 
of my religion alone ?" 

" Of that alone." 

"Then," cried Father Ogilvie, "that is enough. 
On the ground of my religion alone I am condemned, 
and for that I would joyfully give a hundred lives 
if I had them. Take away from me quickly the one 
I have; my religion you shall never take away." 

" Are you not afraid of death ?" asked another of 
the ministers. The first one had probably retired in 
discomfiture. 

" No more in so good a cause," said the priest, 
" than you fear the dishes when you go to take your 
supper." 

138 



The Last Scene 

The executioner approached him to bind his hands, 
which had evidently been untied on his arrival at 
the scaffold, or perhaps at the minister s promise of 
freedom. In one of them was his rosary, which he had 
been holding all the time. As the hangman ap 
proached him with the rope, Father Ogilvie raised 
that hand and flung the beads with all his strength 
straight out into the crowd below. A young Hun 
garian of noble birth, Baron Johann von Eckersdorff, 
who had reason to remember the scene, gives 
the following account of this incident and its 
sequel : 

" I was travelling through England and Scotland, 
being at the time a youth and not of the Faith. I 
happened to be in Glasgow on the day that Father 
Ogilvie was led to the scaffold, and I cannot fitly 
describe his noble bearing as he went to meet his 
death. Just before he ascended the gallows he bade 
farewell to the Catholics present by throwing his rosary 
into their midst. That rosary, thrown haphazard, 
struck me on the breast, and I could easily have 
caught it in my hands, but there was such a rush 
of all the Catholics to obtain possession of it that 
I had to cast it from me for fear of being crushed 
to death. Religion was the last thing I concerned 
myself about at the time; I never thought of it at all; 
yet from that moment it never ceased to trouble me. 
That rosary left a wound in my soul; no matter 
where I went, I had no peace of mind. At last 
conscience triumphed, and I became a Catholic." 

Father Ogilvie s hands having been tied behind 
him, and so tightly that his fingers were seen to 
tremble and quiver with pain, he was told to go up 

139 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

the ladder. Spottiswoode asserts that he stumbled 
as he did so, and cried out that he would fall. The 
Archbishop insinuates that this was caused by the 
fear of death a strange accusation to bring against 
one who had just refused the offer of life. Spottis 
woode s aim, of course, was to prove to the people 
who had not been present that the martyr s death 
had not been so heroic as rumour had reported. It 
was after four o clock in the afternoon, and, as we 
have said, Father Ogilvie had been given no food 
since the day before. It is not surprising that, 
having to climb a steep ladder with both hands tied 
tightly behind him, he should have faltered as he 
did so. 

The noose was already round the martyr s neck. 
He reached the top of the ladder and stood for a 
moment praying aloud. " Maria, Mater Gratise," 
he said, with other prayers, and invocations from the 
Litany of the Saints. Then, in a voice that all 
could hear, he declared that he founded his hope of 
Heaven in the mercy of God and the jnerits of the 
Precious Blood of Christ. 

There was a moment s silence, the ladder was 
withdrawn, and the long and weary battle was at 
an end. 

Scarcely was the deed accomplished, when a wild 
tumult broke out below in the crowd. Men, and women 
alike cried out for vengeance on those who were 
responsible for the shedding of innocent blood, and 
prayed aloud that it might fall on the guilty alone 
and not upon those who abhorred and detested the 
crime that had been committed. The sympathy 
was evidently widespread and outspoken, for we 

140 



The Last Scene 

know that for several weeks afterwards the ministers 
bitterly upbraided the people in their sermons for the 
compassion shown to a criminal and a Papist. It 
was probably due to the threatening temper of the 
crowd that the remainder of the sentence, the 
quartering, was not carried out. The body of the 
martyr was hastily cut down and buried, " in a place 
outside the city destined for the interment of 
criminals." 

The exact site of this place is doubtful. Some 
think that it is part of the graveyard which surrounds 
the cathedral, a spot to the right on the north side of 
the building being pointed out as the old-time burial- 
ground of malefactors. But even if this were the 
place of burial, it is exceedingly doubtful if the body 
of the martyr remained there. The Catholic narrative 
asserts that during the following night, which was a 
wild one, about forty horsemen were seen gathered 
about the grave. Without doubt they were Catholics, 
and it is quite possible that they may have been there 
for the purpose of removing the body. The fact of 
their presence in the graveyard was reported to the 
magistrates, who came next morning " with a great 
company to that place." The ground had evidently 
been disturbed, and the magistrates ordered that 
search was to be made if the body were still there 
by prodding the ground with iron rods. On meeting 
with some resistance, the men concluded that the 
coffin had not been disturbed, and were forbidden 
to search further. 

It would seem that James had certain qualms of 
conscience with regard to his share in Father Ogilvie s 
execution. 



A Scottish Knight-Errant 

" How did they take the death of the Jesuit ?" 
he asked of Huntly later. 

" It made a very unfavourable impression," was 
the reply. 

" It was not my fault," declared the King; " Spot- 
tiswoode was in such a hurry. I did not desire it. 
I do not want to see bloody heads round my death 
bed. Have you not heard how Elizabeth died ?" 
he added, as Huntly did not seem to understand the 
allusion. 

If the enemies of the Catholic Church had enter 
tained a hope that the missionary priests would be 
discouraged by the execution of Father Ogilvie, and 
give up the hazardous enterprise of bringing the 
consolations of religion to their fellow-Catholics, 
the result must have been a disappointment. : Scot 
land was never so infested by prowling Jesuits and 
traffickers as now," we read in the correspondence of 
the years that follow immediately on that event. 
" There were in the old Church," says a Protestant 
historian. 1 " many ardent spirits seeking martyrdom; 
and the rumour had gone forth that Scotland was a 
country in which that could be found." 

Then, as now, " it was the Mass that mattered " 
the Mass that John Knox and his followers had 
stigmatized as " detestable superstition " and 
" abominable idolatry." Three hundred years have 
gone by since Father Ogilvie shed his blood in defence 
of the Mass, and times have changed in their passing. 
" Nobody nowadays," says a Protestant writer of our 
own days, " save a handful of vulgar fanatics, speaks 
irreverently of the Mass. If the Incarnation be 

1 Andrew Lang. 
142 



The Last Scene 

indeed the one Divine event to which the whole 
creation moves, the miracle of the Altar may well 
seem to cast its restful shadow over a dry and thirsty 
land for the help of man, who is apt to be discouraged 
if perpetually told that everything really important 
and interesting happened once for all long ago, in a 
chill historic past." 3 

1 Augustine Birrell. 



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